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VOL. 10 | NO. 34 | Saturday, August 19, 2017

Monuments Rally Draws Arrests at Forrest Statue

By Bill Dries

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Several people were arrested in Health Science Park Saturday when they attempted to cover the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue with a sheet at a rally calling for the immediate removal of the monument. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

Memphis Police arrested several people Saturday, Aug. 19, as they attempted to climb the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park and cover the image of the Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard with a white sheet.

The arrests came an hour into the latest in a series of rallies at the park in the last week calling for the immediate removal of the Forrest statue and the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Memphis Park.

Others in the crowd had put signs calling for the Forrest statue to be removed at the base of the monument and police did not stop them. Police acted when others attempted to climb onto the horse which Forrest’s image sits atop.

After those arrested were put into police cars, some protesters briefly tried to block the police cars from leaving along Union Avenue. A line of 50 police officers pushed them out of the way and maintained a line on the Union Avenue side of the park.

All of those arrested had been released pending a court appearance by Saturday evening.

The park protest, organized by Take Them Down 901, drew several hundred people Saturday afternoon and marked the first arrests in the actions that followed violence in Charlottesville, Va. where white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups rallied in opposition to plans there to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

The violence there and comments by President Donald Trump expressing support for the Confederate statues and saying the violence came from “many sides” – a comment he first took back and then restated – has brought new life to the issue of Confederate memorials in the south, including Memphis.

Earlier in the day, 27 people were arrested in Boston as a “free speech” rally by those supporting the monuments and opposed to their removal was ended early. The rally drew a much larger counter protest.

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