TN senator meets with voters for feedback on Confederate statues

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee State Senator Lee Harris hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday focusing on historic preservation.

Senator Harris wants to see the Confederate monuments taken down, even sending a letter to Governor Bill Haslam requesting he take action.

Senator Harris had a chance to voice his opinions in front of a packed house of concerned citizens and explained what he thinks should happen to the Memphis' Confederate monuments.

"I don't want to see the monuments demolished, I do want to see them moved out of our parks," Senator Harris said.

The meeting, which was originally scheduled to discuss historical preservation, quickly turned into a conversation about what will happen next with the historical monuments.

"We are going to lose another statue here and that's kind of a shame," said former Boy Scout Laroy Best.

Best said the Confederate statues are an important part of the trails and hikes the local chapters complete.

"Historically people need to know and it just happens to be in that place of the current trail," Best said.

Others said removing the statues from parks could allow for them to be placed in locations that give a broader understanding of history.

"Relocating these statues to either a cemetery or to a military park or to some place where they help to tell a broader story," said Scott Blake.

Senator Harris is currently asking Governor Bill Haslam to meet with the Tennessee Historical Commission and to show support for the statues' removal by casting his vote.

"If the governor is not going to cast his vote as a Member of the Tennessee Historical Commission in favor of Memphis have local authority over these parks then I think we've got a real uphill battle," Senator Harris said.

Governor Haslam said earlier this week that he wants to see the statues in Memphis come down, and he supports how Mayor Jim Strickland is going about it.

Governor Haslam also said he thinks the City of Memphis should decide what happens on its own property.

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