Strickland meets with community leaders to discuss Confederate monuments

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland sat down with community leaders to update them on plans to remove Confederate statues in the city.

The move comes after Strickland fired back at critics who said he was not doing enough to take the monuments down.

"The city elected officials, county elected officials, state elected officials, we have both mayors on board, so that's very encouraging. They're committed to getting the statues removed," TN Representative Raumesh Akbari said.

Akbari was one of 25 people who attended the hour-long meeting.

"I do think it's promoting unity, especially as we march toward the 50th annual commemoration of the assassination of Dr. King," Akbari said.

Prominent Memphis attorney and Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey was there as well. He said he sees tremendous progress in the move to remove the statues, something Bailey has been advocating for years.

"I was just absolutely amazing at the excitement and the support of the people who were in attendance around that issue," Bailey said.

From Bailey's office window, he has a direct view of the Jefferson Davis monument, a view he hopes will change soon.

"I'm very much encouraged. It's not going away, it's going to be a perpetual effort until it's accomplished," Bailey said.

Strickland said he is working with the city's chief legal officer to find a legal way to remove the monuments, but some community members said the Mayor is dragging his feet in the process.

Strickland said he doesn't have the power to immediately take down the statues, and they are waiting for approval from the state's historical commission--which includes several members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

City council came up with several related options, ranging from selling to boarding up the statues, instead of relying on the historical commission granting permission.

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