After months of debate and legal maneuvering, one of two Confederate memorials located in public parks in Memphis, TN, has come down, and the other is soon to follow.
A statue of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later founded the Ku Klux Klan, was removed from Health Sciences Park park on Wednesday evening. A second statue of former Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, still stands in Memphis Park. It is unclear when the monument will be removed.
The removal of both monuments was approved on Wednesday following the sale of the parks to a private buyer—a move that was necessitated by an arcane Tennessee law that prohibits the removal or relocation of memorials on public property.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced the sale of both parks, Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park, to a nonprofit on Twitter:
According to local news station WREG, both parks were sold to Memphis Greenspace, a nonprofit headed by Shelby County commissioner Van D. Turner Jr., for $1000. Memphis was forced to sell the parks after the Tennessee Historical Commission, which oversees the law protecting monuments, denied the city’s waiver application in October.
Tami Sawyer, an activist who led a group fighting to remove the monuments, Take ‘Em Down 901, described the statues’ removal as an emotional experience. “Just to finally get to this moment is overwhelming. I looked Nathan Bedford in the eyes and shed a tear for my ancestors,” she said.
Symbolically, Nathan Bedford’s monument was removed at 9:01 PM on Wednesday—a nod to the Memphis area code:
WREG News Channel 3 has a glorious Facebook Live of the statue’s removal: