Group to begin improving park after Tenn. Supreme Court rejects lawsuit over Confederate statues

Group to begin improving park after Tenn. Supreme Court rejects lawsuit over Confederate statues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A major decision has been made in the two-year legal battle over removing Confederate statues in Memphis.

“I think you’re going to see some really, really good things happen now,” said Van Turner, Memphis Greenspace president.

Van Turner is president of the non-profit group, Memphis Greenspace, which bought Health Sciences Park and removed the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis in a park downtown.

Now, he says his organization can go forward to improve the park.

The Tennessee Supreme Court denied a petition to review a lower court ruling, dismissing the lawsuit over the Confederate statues including Forrest and Jefferson Davis at a park downtown.

Health Sciences Park now has an unsightly fence around the pedestal that once held the statue.

“We still want to preserve the pedestal at the park until we decide what happens next.”

Turner said that could include removing the pedestal, even another statue.

He also said the fence will come down at some point.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans argued it was illegal for the city to sell the parks to the non-profit so it could remove the controversial statues.

Lee Millar with the group said he is disappointed in the decision, but the fight is not over to save the statues.

Van Turner said right now it is not clear where the statue of Forrest and Jefferson Davis will end up.

He said they could end up in a museum or some other place remembering the civil war, and that no deal has been signed.

“This lawsuit has consumed so much time and energy and focus that its sort of coming to an end. We can refocus on other things," said Turner.

There is still a lawsuit in Chancery Court filed by the Forrest family over the graves in front of the pedestal at Health Sciences Park.

Van Turner said he hopes that will be resolved soon.

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