VOL. 132 | NO. 172 | Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Confederate Emblems Attacked Statewide
By Bill Dries
Germantown aldermen approved a resolution Monday, Aug. 28, to “combat hate, extremism and bigotry” with two of the five aldermen, John Barzizza and Dean Massey, abstaining.
Both had called for a delay in voting on the resolution offered by Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo. But other aldermen voiced strong support for the measure Monday evening and no delay in approving it.
As the Germantown body expressed its sentiment, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam wrote a letter Monday to the executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission, urging the body to approve a waiver allowing Memphis city government to take down a statute of Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park.
The issue doesn’t return to the commission until October.
A Monday, Aug. 28, protest at the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue by the A. Philip Randolph Institute drew a small crowd with a larger police response as the controversy continued to show movement among elected officials here and in Nashville. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)
“A refusal to act on the petition in October will only prolong the issue and result in criticism of both the established process and the commission itself, as this process can work effectively only if the responsible entities act in a timely manner,” Haslam wrote.
Haslam said in Memphis last week that he would not seek to call a special meeting of the historical commission on the question.
In Nashville, Haslam has begun the process of removing a bust of Forrest from the state Capitol building. His formal request is on the Friday, Sept. 1, agenda of the State Capitol Commission.
Memphis City Council members, meanwhile, are weighing other legal grounds that might allow the city to act unilaterally and sooner to take down the Forrest monument here and a statue of Confederacy president Jefferson Davis in Memphis Park.
Options could include declaring the statues a public nuisance under state law or citing the state’s civil rights statute.
Council attorney Allan Wade told council members last week it is easier for the state to carry out death by lethal injection than it is to remove a Confederate monument under the 2016 state statute that is now in play.
And Wade said there are mandatory waiting periods on any decision beyond the October consideration of the waiver. If the historical commission were to grant a waiver under normal conditions, it would be at a meeting in February because of the waiting period. If a waiver was approved by the commission then, there would be a 120-day waiting period before work could begin on moving the monument, Wade said last week.
The latest protest at the Forrest statue Monday, Aug. 28, drew a small crowd organized by the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s local chapter to mark the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Police initially outnumbered protesters.
Six people were arrested Aug. 19 on misdemeanor charges during a much larger protest at the statue. Charges were dropped against one of the six defendants. One of the remaining five is charged with desecration of a venerated object for attempting to drape the statue with a large sheet; three others are charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to stop police from making arrests; and a fifth is charged with obstructing a roadway in a march that followed the arrests.