VOL. 133 | NO. 23 | Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Nashville Court Orders Second Attempt at Mediation on Monuments
By Bill Dries
The Nashville chancellor who Monday ordered a hold on selling or transferring ownership of Confederate monuments removed from two Memphis parks followed up the next day with an order that all sides in the dispute enter mediation.
Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle’s Tuesday, Jan. 30, order calls for all parties to mediate where the statues of Confederacy president Jefferson Davis, Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest and a bust of Confederate Capt. Harvey Mathes might go.
That follows their removal from Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park last month.
A Nashville chancellor Monday barred the sale or transfer of Confederate monuments removed last month from two city parks sold to a nonprofit. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)
City chief legal officer Bruce McMullen said the new court order is about “an appropriate home” for the statues.
“Nothing in this order is inconsistent with the position the city has taken in this matter,” McMullen said of the call for mediation.
“The city has always been open to working with all interested parties on a permanent solution,” he said in a written statement. “However, it should be noted that the city no longer owns these statues. They are the property of Memphis Greenspace.”
The mediation would presumably be among the parties in the Chancery Court action – the city of Memphis, Memphis Greenspace and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
It would be the second attempt at mediation in the larger controversy. Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration asked the city and SCV to go to mediation late last year while the monuments were still in the city-owned parks.
But McMullen said no mediation sessions were ever held because the date for the talks kept being delayed. He said SCV always took the position that the monuments should not be moved and indicated they would not make any counter offers if there was mediation.
The city set a Dec. 19 deadline for mediation and said if there was no mediation by then, it would be up to the Memphis City Council to act.
The day after the deadline, the council unanimously approved the sale of Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park to the nonprofit Memphis Greenspace Inc. for $1,000 each.
The monuments in those parks were removed that same evening.
Lyle ruled Monday that Memphis Greenspace could not sell or transfer the monuments pending a hearing before the Tennessee Historical Commission sometime in the next two months. The ruling also denied a request by the SCV chapter to inspect the monuments for any damage.
Memphis Greenspace president Van Turner has said the monuments will not be damaged in any way and that the nonprofit has had offers to obtain them from several organizations including a Jefferson Davis museum in Biloxi, Mississippi, and a white nationalist group as well as the descendants of Mathes.