Sons of Confederate Veterans demanding millions from City of Memphis, Greenspace over statue removal
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There’s a multi-million dollar twist in the ongoing court battle over Memphis' Confederate statues.
Sources tell WMC Action News 5 that the Sons of Confederate Veterans and members of the Forest family want the City of Memphis and Greenspace to pay them millions of dollars to relocate the graves of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann.
For more than a century the bodies of Forrest and his wife have been buried in the park off Union Avenue.
His statue atop the memorial was removed in December 2017.
A source gave WMC a document with details about what the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the descendants of Forrest are asking for from the City of Memphis and Greenspace--the non-profit that removed the statue.
They have asked the City of Memphis and Greenspace to pay them more than $5 million to relocate the graves.
That's not all.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and Forrest family also want the city and Greenspace to pay them $25 million to cover legal costs.
The two sides have been arguing about the removal of the Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues for months now.
The city calls the request for money an "outlandish demand."
Mayor Jim Strickland’s Chief Communications Officer Ursula Madden said, “If this was really about history and heritage, Sons of Confederate Veterans could have had the statues months ago. They’ve made it about money to enrich themselves.”
Lee Millar, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said that the demands for money are an attempt to get the city and Greenspace back to the negotiating table.
“That’s ridiculous. It’s not about the money. It’s always been about preserving history, and we want the statues put back up,” he said. “It’s got nothing to do with the money. It’s just we’re serious, and we’ll stay in court as long as it takes because we feel the statues should go up back up. It’s part of our history.”
Greenspace CEO Van Turner said that’s not an option they’re willing to consider.
“We have to let the past be what it is. Move beyond the past and move forward, and Memphians want this. We want to be the city we know we can be,” he said.
The case is now in the court of appeals.
Turner said they’re willing to reach an out-of-court settlement with Sons of Confederate Veterans if it doesn’t involve putting the statues back up.
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