VOL. 10 | NO. 49 | Saturday, December 2, 2017
City Administration Sets Dec. 19 Deadline For Mediation On Confederate Monuments
By Bill Dries
The city of Memphis is setting a Dec. 19 deadline for mediation efforts on the removal of Confederate monuments from city parks.
Attorney Allan Wade, representing the city administration in the matter, sent a letter to attorneys for the state Friday, Dec. 1, saying city government has received no word when mediation sessions suggested by the state on the controversy are scheduled.
“We have received conflicting information from the mediators and the other parties about the reasons for the delay,” Wade wrote in the letter to attorney Steven Stout and Emily Urban in Nashville. “The reasons for the delay are irrelevant. The city has been willing to cooperate with the state’s desire that the parties try to amicably resolve their differences and is still willing to do so.”
But Wade added that the city “cannot delay much longer.”
“As our final gesture to cooperate, the Memphis City Council will delay acting on its pending ordinance until Dec. 19, 2017,” Wade wrote. “The city will agree to participate in mediation before that date. Thereafter, the council will take whatever action it deems appropriate.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has set the end of the year as the date by which the city wants to have a resolution to the controversy and a plan in place that will remove and relocate the monument to Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest currently in Health Sciences Park.
The mediation sessions would be among the city, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the descendants of Forrest. Forrest and his wife are interred at the base of the monument.
The council ordinance, which has been approved by the council on two of its three readings, lists alternatives to the removal of the statue that the council may undertake. They include closing Health Science Park to anyone and the city erecting a monument to lynching victims in the plaza around the Forrest statue.
The city originally had a November hearing date before an administrative judge to pursue its claim that the state’s law protecting Confederate and other war memorials does not apply to the Forrest statue. The hearing is now set for mid December. If the city were to prevail in that effort, it would mean the city would not continue to pursue a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission to remove the statue.