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VOL. 132 | NO. 165 | Monday, August 21, 2017

Charges Vary In Forrest Statue Arrests as Issue Moves to City Hall

By Bill Dries

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DONALD WARDEN

Only two of the six people arrested on misdemeanor charges Saturday, Aug. 19, during demonstrations at the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park were charged with trying to wrap a banner around the monument and only one of the two was charged with “desecration of a venerated object.”

Memphis Police made the first arrests in a week of protests surrounding the Confederate monuments as protesters gathered Saturday at the statue of the Confederate General, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard began climbing the statue to wrap it in a large white sheet or banner.

Police did not stop protesters who left signs on the equestrian statue’s base.

The rally was organized by the “Take Them Down 901” organization, which is calling for the immediate removal of the Forrest monument, the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Memphis Park and any other monuments or similar items about the Confederacy on city property.

The issue’s next forum will likely be City Hall, where City Council consider a resolution Tuesday directing the mayor and his administration to immediately remove and/or sell the monuments. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has said he intends to stick with a longer appeal to the Tennessee Historical Commission and a Chancery Court lawsuit if the commission doesn’t give the city a waiver allowing it to remove the monuments.

Donald Warden is charged with disorderly conduct and desecration of a venerated object.

According to the affidavit of complaint, Warden was told to get off the statue several times by police.

ROB BROWN

“The defendant’s actions cause a public annoyance and alarm amongst onlookers observing the protest,” the affidavit reads. “The defendant’s actions created a physically offensive condition for the general public.”

A handwritten addition to the report adds that Warden “desecrated the burial site of Nathan Bedford Forrest.”

Robert Levert Brown is charged with disorderly conduct only. According to the affidavit for his arrest, Brown was “being very disorderly.”

“Defendant was attempting to put a large banner in the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest and refusing to stop despite officers advising him to stop,” it adds.

Three of the remaining four arrested – Scott Prather, Jarrell Williams and Patrick Ghant -- are charged with obstructing police as they were trying to make other arrests. And the fourth is charged with obstructing a road for a march to the Criminal Justice Center on Union Avenue that followed the arrests.

Five of the six were released Sunday on bonds of $100 each while Mia Frances Jordan, charged with blocking Union Avenue, was written a citation and released without bond.

All six are due for arraignment Monday morning before three General Sessions Criminal Court judges.

Strickland issued a statement Sunday saying:

"Peaceful, lawful protest is respected by the City of Memphis and will continue to be. We know well here in Memphis how that has helped usher in meaningful, positive change over the years. But no one is above the law, which the men and women of the Memphis Police Department and I have taken oaths to enforce."

Then later Sunday evening, he reacted in a Facebook post to criticism from some organizers of the Saturday rally that Strickland is moving too slowly.

In the post, he called the criticism "divisive, empty rhetoric."

"I want every Memphian to see the absurdity of someone accusing a mayor who is actually working on removing Confederate statues as being an apologist for white supremacists," he posted.


RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0