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VOL. 10 | NO. 33 | Saturday, August 12, 2017

Forrest Statue Marks Rally Point Against Charlottesville Violence

By Bill Dries

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More than 100 people gathered Saturday, Aug. 12, in Health Science Park around the statue there of Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The protest was part of local reaction to the day’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia following a torchlight parade at the University of Virginia by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Protesters and counter-protesters in the college town clashed violently Saturday and one person was killed, more than a dozen injured, when a driver drove his vehicle into a crowd in the aftermath of the clashes.

The torchlight procession was the first of several protests planned by the groups of the city of Charlottesville’s decision to take down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“Let’s do some justice,” Rhodes College history professor and Africana Studies chairman Charles McKinney told the Memphis crowd, speaking from the platform of the Forrest Statue. “It won’t be easy.”

At times the crowd chanted, “Nathan Bedford has got to go” and “Jefferson Davis has got to go” – referring to the city’s two major Civil War monuments in city parks.

Memphis Police watched from the edge of the park and followed a brief march on Union Avenue – blocking traffic at times. There was no violence and no arrests.

“This puts Memphis, Tennessee as a city that cares about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia today,” U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen told the Memphis gathering. “I am truly afraid of what is happening to our nation. It starts with Donald Trump. It ends with Donald Trump.”

Cohen was critical of the president’s comment earlier in the day that the violence in Charlottesville came “on many sides.” Trump also made no mention specifically of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

“It wasn’t on both sides,” Cohen said. “It was the white supremacists and nationalists who came out with their Nazi paraphernalia. It was a horrific day in America. We have to be aware and awake at all moments.”

“There are two groups he can’t say anything bad about: Russia and white supremacists and there is something wrong with that,” he added.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, in a written statement, said Saturday: “We stand united against the violence and hatred in Charlottesville and pray for the victims of the attacks.”

Also in a written statement, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said: “The deplorable hatred and violence in Charlottesville today defaces our most cherished values and traditions.”

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