Black Memphis Leaders Reportedly Purchase Park; Remove Confederate Statues
Two Confederate statues were removed in Memphis after a private group lead by a county commissioner purchased two parks, bringing new levels to the revolution.
The removal of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis from Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park have been the talk of the city for years, The Washington Post reports. Forrest was an early leader of the KKK, while Davis was a blunt supporter of slavery.
On Thursday (Dec. 21), Shelby County Commissioner and attorney Van Turner hosted a press conference where he shared that his group Memphis Greenspace Inc. purchased the park with the help of anonymous donors. The statues were removed and are currently kept in a non-disclosed location.
But Jones said the mission wasn’t entirely focused on the removal of the statues, but the improvement of city affairs. “When we wake up tomorrow morning, we still will have issues with education, we still will have issues of poverty in this city, we still will have issues with public safety. This doesn’t resolve any of that,” he said. “What this does is move this out of the way. This is a non-issue now.”
Groups gathered Wednesday (Dec.20) to watch the statues get taken down. Those among the crowd included Tami Sawyer, the creator of #TakeEmDown901, a movement that called for the removal of the the statues earlier this year. MLK50 reported Sawyer’s movement helped bring more attention to the removal of the monuments.
“These are monuments to symbols of racism and hatred and nothing more,” Sawyer penned for the outlet. “There is no justification in my mind for these statues to continue to stand. Removing statues does not erase history.”
Jones’ actions are supported by legislation passed in September, which allows nonprofit groups to purchase parkland. The remains of Forrest and his wife are still at the park and can only be removed by permission from the family. Confederate supporters have disputed this and other reasons they plan to take legal action against Jones and Memphis Greenspace Inc.
“We are absolutely outraged at the continual attempts of Memphis to besmirch the good name of our ancestors, their Cause, and their leaders,” Carl Jones, Chief of Heritage Operations of Sons of Confederate Veterans said on Facebook. “The ignorant, shameful, and dishonest tactics used against his memorial will not be tolerated by us, or by the American people, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans will exhaust every resource at our disposal to, once again, fight against the politically correct and perpetually ignorant who are behind this putrid, evil, and hate-inspired travesty of justice.”
Regardless of criticism, Turner called the deal a legal one. “This is not a shady deal. It’s a legal deal,” he said. “I presented this solution to Bruce McMullen, the city attorney for the city of Memphis, and he has consistently been an advocate for the removal of these statues legally.”