The mayor of a coastal Oregon town apologizes and resigns after posting offensive comments in a private Facebook group aimed at current and former police officers.
Dean Sawyer, the mayor of Newport, apologized and tendered his resignation Monday morning, after Oregon Public Broadcasting revealed that he had been sharing memes and posts derogatory toward women, immigrants, non-English speakers, and LGBT people in a Facebook group with 39,000 members since 2016. His recent posts specifically targeted people, OPB reported. transgender.
During the weekend, a local group from the LGBT community held a demonstration outside City Hall, with more than 100 people demanding Sawyer’s departure. Five of his six Newport City Council colleagues attended the protest and appeared set to request his resignation at a special meeting scheduled for Monday. The city’s police chief and Lincoln County sheriff also condemned Sawyer’s postings.
Kathy Redwine, a Newport Oregon Pride board member, welcomed the city’s unity and courage by expressing her sentiments in positive and surprising ways. She added: “It would have been unfortunate if we had continued to carry all that pain and mistrust.”
Sawyer told OPB on Friday that the Facebook group called “LEO Only” is private and that your posts were not intended for the public. However, speaking to The Oregonian/OreonLive on Monday, he admitted that his online persona had become too polarizing to continue in his role.
“I now realize that some of my actions and words have hurt people I love and care about,” Sawyer said. “I take full responsibility. I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused anyone in this community, directly or indirectly.”
In addition, he acknowledged that his posts were “vile and dark, and I should not have gotten involved in them,” according to The Oregonian/OregonLive. OPB reported that it had reviewed the memes, but did not disclose how it gained access to them. The Facebook group requires an active or retired police ID as proof to join. Sawyer worked as a police officer in Newport for three decades before being elected mayor in 2018.