Tear Down this Statue

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Tear Down this Statue

Anna Sandt, Staff Writer

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In late December of 2017, statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis were removed from the Memphis Park. Forrest was not only a general in the Civil War but a leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Davis was the president of the Confederacy. By selling the two parks these statues were located in, each for $1,000, to private entities, Memphis avoided legal regulations that had prevented their removal. But, as a result of the statues being removed, the House of Representatives in Tennessee recently passed an amendment that took away $250,000 from the city that was going to be used for its bicentennial celebration, which will be taking place on May 22, 2019. This amendment is part of a larger spending bill that involves $37.5 million dollars of spending money for Tennessee.

The loss of the funding is a result of many upset congresspeople. The city of Memphis took down the two Confederate statues with no approval from the legislature, even though many saw it as legal, and right. While others, like the Tennessee Legislature, felt that removing statues in the middle of the night was criminal. However, Jim Strickland, the Mayor of Memphis felt the removal was completely legal. Representative Gerald McCormick, a Republican representing Chattanooga in the Tennessee House stated that, “I think the city of Memphis, like any other city in the nation, needs to if not obey the law, at least obey the spirit of the law…The law was very clear, and they got smart lawyers to figure out how to wiggle around the law.” On the other hand, Democratic State Representative Raumesh Akbari argued that “It is one thing to observe and learn from history…It’s another thing to celebrate a dark part of our history … it’s not something that really represents the people of this state.” While many feel that removing the statues was illegal they believe as a result, Memphis should be financially punished. Others feel that because the statues represented a segregated, racially offensive time, that removing them was in the city of Memphis’ best interest.