'History is being made' Memphis Mayor says as City Council orders to remove Confederate statues

The decision to remove the two most Confederate statues from the city was taken by the Memphis City Council unanimously on Wednesday evening.


                            'History is being made' Memphis Mayor says as City Council orders to remove Confederate statues

A crew on Wednesday removed the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, nearly 113 years after the Confederate general and former residents of Memphis memorialized it in a city park in Southwest Tennessee city.

A Confederate statue, coined Silent Sam, is guarded by two layers of fence, chain and police on the campus of the University of Chapel Hill on August 22, 2017 in Chapel Hill North Carolina. Demonstrators rallied for its removal. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

A few hours after the statue of Forrest was hoisted off its platform, a smaller statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis monument was also removed. Forrest was a Confederate general, a slave trader, and a Ku Klux Klan leader who became influential in the city's growth after the Civil War.



The decision to remove the two most Confederate statues from the city was taken by the Memphis City Council unanimously on Wednesday evening. Reports state that the move to remove the sculptures was approved within minutes.



Reports state that a large number of police officials surrounded the particular park, shortly after the vote, and a crane was rolled into the Health Sciences Park on Union Avenue soon to remove the statues.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wrote in a tweet that the public parks in the city have been sold to a private entity. He also added that the removal of the statues will be conducted by a private entity, in compliance with the law.



“History is being made in Memphis tonight,” Strickland said on Wednesday.

Reports state that two of the park properties in the city were transferred to a nonprofit Memphis Greenspace for $1,000 each. A Shelby County Commissioner, Van Turner, is the group's director.

Protesters attend a rally protesting against the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in front of a statue in Memphis (Getty Images)

The Mayor added that the purchase of the parks and the removal of the statues were funded privately by the nonprofit group, and it is not yet clear where the statues will go. Reports state that Memphis Greenspace will be responsible for maintaining the parks.

“It is a deliberate attempt to avoid the state law and the city is breaking the law," Lee Millar with Sons of Confederate Veterans said.



The Sons of Confederate Veterans group said in a post on Facebook the nonprofit firm was a "sham" and then also accused the city of desecrating Forrest's gravesite, according to WBALTV reports.

Memphis Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen said that Greenspace can legally remove the statues from the park as they were sold to the firm. He added that the statues will be kept at an undisclosed location.



Health Sciences Park captured a video of cheers from people as the statue of Forrest was lifted off its marble base and was placed in a truck late on Wednesday. Police officials had reportedly cordoned off the area around the statue in case of any protests or mishaps.



Police had also blocked off the surrounding streets near the Fourth Bluff Park where the statue of President Jefferson Davis was being removed. 

The Memphis Mayor also wrote a post on Facebook explaining the decision taken by the authorities, while adding that the work underway in the two parks complied with the state law.

A police officer watches as members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march (Getty Images)

"I commend Mayor Strickland and the City Council for finding a way to legally remove statues from an era that is not representative of Memphis today and have remained an affront to most of the citizens of Memphis," U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Memphis, told the Commercial Appeal.





Many cities across the states in the US have attempted to remove Confederate monuments after a racially motivated massacre at a black church in South Carolina claimed nine lives and a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia created an uproar, resulting in the death of one in an anti-white supremacist rally.



The city had earlier tried to remove the statues but the Tennessee Historical Commission had denied the request. Memphis, earlier this month, had also filed a petition asking for a judicial review of the decision. 

Demonstrators rally for the removal of a Confederate statue coined Silent Sam on the campus of the University of Chapel Hill on August 22, 2017, in Chapel Hill North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

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