Judge unseals legal documents in Nathan Bedford Forrest statue case

Judge unseals legal documents in Nathan Bedford Forrest statue case

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Legal documents filed mainly by attorneys for the Sons of Confederate Veterans and one by the city of Memphis and Greenspace have been unsealed.

The SCV wants a jury trial primarily to get the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest back up on that pedestal where it was removed, or a whole lot of money.

The City of Memphis and Greenspace says, “good luck.”

"It was an attempt to gain money by threatening to sue us for trespassing and desecration of graves,” said councilman Allan Wade. “We think it's totally absurd."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is asking for $30 million from the City of Memphis and Greenspace, the nonprofit that removed the statue.

Attorney Claiborne Ferguson, who is not associated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans or the City of Memphis or Greenspace, said the $30 million just looks like a money grab.

“It looks like somebody just decided to make this entire case all about money, not about what was right and wrong,” Ferguson said.

Lee Millar with SCV said that’s not the case.

“It’s got nothing to do with the money,” Millar said. “It’s just we’re serious and we’ll stay in court as long as it takes because we feel the statues should go back up. It’s part of our history.”

A newspaper clipping from when the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was erected.
A newspaper clipping from when the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was erected. (WMC Action News 5)

Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife’s graves were moved from Elmwood Cemetery by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to what would become Forrest Park, despite the fact that Forrest’s will said he wanted to be buried at Elmwood.

The statue of Forrest was placed by on top of the graves until it was removed by Greenspace. Since a judge in Davidson County unsealed all of the legal documents, you can see all of the legal documents attorneys for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that have been filed.

It is not clear if the attorneys are offering their services free of charge. Millar said that's private and won't reveal if the attorneys are getting paid.

Greenspace CEO Van Turner said the Sons of Confederate Veterans can have the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest but putting it back in the park is not an option he is willing to consider.

The City of Memphis in a statement says if this was really about history, the SCV could have had the statues months ago. They've made it about money.

Wade said the Sons of Confederate Veterans won't get a penny.

Now, it’s all up to the judge.

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