Memphians fight for city’s image as thousands of reviews pop up on social media

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis is getting national attention for the recent removal of two confederate statues and many people are turning to social media to express their opinions about the controversial move.

What used to be a handful of negative reviews on the City of Memphis Facebook page quickly shot up to hundreds after the statues came down.

“It’s fairly obvious that it’s overwhelmingly out of towners," said Kyle Veazey, deputy communications director for the city.

Many people rated Memphis one star, leaving comments about a corrupt government destroying history.

Related: Mayor says "History is being made in Memphis" as Confederate statues removed

Veazey said these reviews led him to post on his own social media page.

“I just tweeted, ‘Look this is happening. Wouldn’t it be nice if a bunch of Memphians got on and shared how they felt about the city of Memphis?’ Because I know Memphians feel pretty good about Memphis," he said.

So Memphians joined in and said why they believe we’re a five-star city.

One person wrote, "We are a diverse, creative and talented community."

Another person commented on the quality of food, music, hospitals and companies.

Slowly, the positive reviews climbed to meet the negative ones.

“I think it was a great moment of Memphis pride," said Veazey. "That’s sort of my big takeaway.”

As of Tuesday evening, there were nearly 2,000 reviews on the city’s Facebook page with more coming in. Veazey said before the statues were taken down, there were about 150 reviews total.

The posts go back and forth from one-star reviews calling our city dangerous and dirty, to five-star reviews saying the city is ‘filled with wonderful, caring people who love sharing their Southern Hospitality with everyone.’

There are remarks about the city’s rich history and progressive future, along with the fight against hate and bigotry -- while others talk about disrespecting historical monuments and the city focusing on the wrong issues.

Veazey says he supports the freedom of speech and leaving your opinion, but he has a message for those calling Memphis a one-star city without giving it a real chance:

“I would encourage them to come see how great Memphis is and truly experience it," he said. "We’re about to celebrate our bicentennial. We’re about to commemorate the 50th year since Dr. King was killed in our city. There’s such a wide arch of history good and bad, but Memphis is a city that’s changed the world. We say it all the time and there’s so much about it that goes beyond one reaction to one news event."

Veazey said people have accused the city of deleting some of the negative reviews but said only Facebook has the power to take them down. However, they can report comments containing hate speech or harassment.

Veazey also said a lot of people wrote online that Nathan Bedford Forrest’s grave was removed from the park, which is not true.

You can look at the Facebook reviews or write your own here.