Mayor fires back at critics who call him 'white supremacy apologist'

Mayor fires back at critics who call him 'white supremacy apologist'

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland fired back at critics who claim he is not doing enough to remove the Confederate monuments in the city.

Strickland took to Facebook to share an article from The Commercial Appeal titled, "Rally leaders say Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland not showing clear leadership."

Strickland and his administration said they are doing everything they can to remove the Confederate monuments legally.

Strickland's spokesperson, Ursula Madden, said the mayor is taking criticism from both sides of the argument.

It's that middle-of-the-road stance that has monument removal supporters like Pastor Earle Fisher upset.

"That type of neutrality is sympathizing with leanings towards or almost apologizing for the white supremacy, the bigotry, and the hatred that's communicated with that statue," Fisher said.

Madden said it's ridiculous to equate the mayor's stance with that of white supremacists.

"That is absurd; it is ridiculous that anyone would put this mayor in a category of a racist, a white supremacist, or anything that is considered hateful," Madden said.

Madden said Strickland is an officer of the court, and he will not order his employees to break the law.

To get the monuments removed, Tennessee Historical Commission must also approve the removal. That board has already voted against the removal once before. It's unclear how it would vote if another request is submitted.

Meanwhile, City Council is set to speak Tuesday about "immediate removal" of the monuments. 

On Facebook, Strickland chalked up part of the problem to a "divisive, empty rhetoric that the media chooses to highlight."

"I want every Memphian to know what I have been doing," Strickland wrote. "I am a life member of the NAACP. I've volunteered to feed the homeless for 30 years. I mentor a kid. My administration has improved our minority business performance by 69 percent."

You can read the full post below:

The mayor's comments followed a weekend of heated protests that led to seven arrests.

Protesters have been relentless in efforts to let it be known they want immediate removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park.

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