City of Memphis continues effort to remove Confederate statues

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - City of Memphis is bringing back efforts to remove Confederate monuments.

The push to remove Confederate monuments around the city began in 2013 when three parks were renamed. In July 2015, Memphis City Council unanimously voted to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, as well as Forrest's remains, from Health Sciences Park. However, the Heritage Protection Act prevents the relocation of military monuments like the statue.

Because of Forrest's remains also being there, the removal of the statue faces extra hurdles. Any removal efforts would have to go through the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC) for approval. In 2015, the commission denied the city's efforts to remove the statue.

The city now plans, again, to remove both the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. The city will file a waiver to send back to Tennessee Historical Commission.

"That's what were doing. Going through the administrative process to get a waiver, which would give us permission to move the statue," Memphis' attorney, Bruce McMullen, explained.

McMullen said if THC denies its efforts, the city will appeal to the chancery court. If that appeal is denied, they are prepared to go all the way to the Court of Appeals.

McMullen said the Jefferson Davis statue will be complicated to remove as well, due to the ownership of the land on which the statue sits.

The monuments, which were the subject of much debate over the past few years, are back in the spotlight following recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists were protesting the removal of confederate statues.

However, there are other groups that want to keep the statues up, and they say it's all about preserving history.

"Some people are getting fed up with the destruction of history," Lee Millar of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said.

Millar said monuments like the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues should be left alone.

"It's a bad idea. We shouldn't be taking down any monuments or statues," Millar said.

Millar said by taking them down, history is being erased.

"It doesn't solve anything. It doesn't help today's current problems they should be dealing with," Millar said.

It's a viewpoint many agree with, but many other Memphians feel the exact opposite--with grassroots campaigns, like the #takeemdown campaign, garnering support for the statues removal.

Mobile Users: Click here to see a slide show of the statues.

In the midst of unrest in Charlottesville, a woman was killed when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters.

"If you're really motivated as we are to get this thing removed, you can contact the Shelby County delegation to the general assembly," McMullen suggested.

Below is a map showing some of the most prominent Confederate monuments in America:

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