Support grows to remove Confederate statue in Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Support to remove Confederate statues in Memphis appears to be growing in the wake of the deadly white supremacy rally in Virginia.

Leaders representing Memphis and the Mid-South at the local, state, and national levels voiced their support of removing Confederate statues. Although, not all Mid-South representatives have made public statements about the movement.

"We have some pretty dark moments within our nation's history particularly surrounding slavery and the U.S. Civil War," State Representative Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) said. "I don't think it's appropriate to celebrate with a monument in a public park, where we want it to feel open for everyone."

Akbari said she and other state representatives are working with local government members to come up with a way to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue from Health Sciences Park.

The newly invigorated push to move the statue comes after the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC) denied the statue's removal in 2016.

Since the statue is on the historical registry and Forrest's remains are under the monument, THC must approve waivers for the removal of the monument.

THC issued a statement in an attempt to clarify its position. You can read the full statement below:

"The Tennessee Historical Commission had a waiver request from the City of Memphis for the Forrest statue before them at their October, 2016 meeting. They did not take up the matter for a vote, based on the waiver criteria they had previously adopted in October, 2015. One of the criteria stated "A historic site on the National Register of Historic Places is not subject to a waiver," and the property is listed in the National Register. Following the meeting,  the City of Memphis filed a petition for declaratory order.  The Office of General Counsel at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation subsequently advised the Tennessee Historical Commission that under the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, rules to administer the Act should be promulgated. The rule promulgation process is ongoing, and the rulemaking hearing took place June 13. The proposed rules are based on the criteria the Commission adopted at its October, 2015 meeting. The Commission will consider the proposed rules at its next meeting on October 13th in Athens, reviewing the public comments that have been received.  Once the rules are promulgated, the THC can hear requests for petitions for a waiver to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act."

City of Memphis said it would not cost any money to take the statue down; it would cost a "minimal" amount of money if the statue is stored some place. However, if the case goes to court, it would cost the city at least $20,000.

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