Ordinance to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest being drafted

Published: Jul. 1, 2015 at 7:08 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2015 at 2:25 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (NBC) - Members of the Memphis City Council are drafting an ordinance to call for the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue at the Health Sciences Park.

A possible ordinance could read as follows:

Ordinance to transfer ownership of the equestrian statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest and to remove and relocate said statue from the City of Memphis' Health Sciences Park pursuant to Section 579.1 of the Charter and subject to the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated  Section 4-1-412 (c) and to ratify the February 3, 2013 Memphis City Council Resolution naming Health Sciences Park, Memphis Park and Mississippi River Park.

Memphis City Council Chairman Myron Lowery believes the time to honor a Confederate hero and early KKK leader in a public space is long over.

"I am not trying to change history at all," said Memphis City Council Chairman Myron Lowery. "Today, we're more unified and we don't share those feelings of hatred and bigotry, and that's what the statue and gravesite represents."

The proposed ordinance seeks to transfer ownership of the statue and to remove and relocate it.

"In my mind, the statue could be moved back to Elmwood cemetery, along with his gravesite," said Lowery.

The city may need to go through Chancery Court in order to move the actual graves of Forrest and his wife, who are buried beneath the statue. The Tennessee Historical Commission may need to get involved as well since the site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lowery said any council action is simply the first step. Meanwhile, he's encouraging other elected leaders to support the move, including the Shelby County Commission.

Commissioner Terry Roland did not seem eager to join the cause on Twitter.

"We need to worry more about the people leaving Shelby Co instead of this stuff," tweeted Roland

"I'm sure there will be opposition against this," said Lowery. "But we will let the legislative process move forward."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans are opposed to the move. However, a spokesman said they have been advised by an attorney not to comment.

The ordinance will be discussed in a committee next Tuesday.

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