Nathan Bedford Forrest statue vandalized

Vandals spray paint Forrest statue with "Black Lives Matter
Published: Aug. 10, 2015 at 1:30 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2015 at 11:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue in Health Sciences Park was vandalized.

Someone spray painted 'Black Lives Matter' on the front of the statue. But by Monday around noon, the statue was already being cleaned by volunteers and city workers.

"I wanted to try and take the hate away. He and his wife are both buried here. If that was your grandmother that was being desecrated, you'd be upset too," said Catherine Blalock, who said her great grandfather rode with Forrest.

The vandalism came 366 days after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.

The shooting sparked the national Black Lives Matter movement.

"Everybody's life matters, but you ain't gotta deface something," said Raymond Lee Jones

"The challenge is that when you just say all lives matter, it doesn't mean they matter the same. We really should say all lives matter the same," said Bishop B. Porter.

Porter, who works to fight for social justice and peace in Memphis said vandalism doesn't solve the problem.

"That's the problem, we have so much build up but not enough proper discussion in the right kind of atmosphere that creates solutions," said Bishop Porter.

But those who lead the "Black Lives Matter" movement in Memphis said it was only a matter of time. In statement to WMC Action News 5, Earle Fisher, Adjunct Instructor of Contemporary Theology at Rhodes College said:

"Our communities are weary of vandalism of property being equated with violence of our person. Add to that, media hasn't covered the funeral of Darrius Stewart, written statements of solidarity from a plethora of grassroots organizations and activists, nor have we been provided with any update of developments relative to the Darrius Stewart shooting from TBI, MPD and/or DA Amy Weirich.... There seems to be a clear bias of media coverage which is both disconcerting and cause for our concern. This gesture is an act of resistance. It is quite likely that this type of resistance will continue if the simple requests for transparency and justice are ignored. Our communities are weary. The country is weary."

Memphis City Council voted to remove the statue and Forrest's remains, but it is not clear if the council can legally do so without approval of Forrest's living descendants.

Whatever the message, some people say vandalizing the statue is still a crime.

"This is this dude's grave. That's messed up still. No matter what, you've still gotta respect that. You don't just spray over somebody's grave just to make a point, that's not gonna stop all the killing if that's what they want to do," said Nick Sparkman.

Police have not made any arrest in the case.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.