Republicans Punish Memphis for Removing Confederate Statues

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2018 5:15 PM CDT
City Punished for Removing Confederate Statues
In this file photo, a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest sits in a park in Memphis, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz, File)

The Republican-dominated House in Tennessee voted Tuesday to punish the city of Memphis for removing Confederate monuments by taking $250,000 away from the city that would have been used for a bicentennial celebration next year, the AP reports. Rep. Antonio Parkinson began to call the amendment vile and racist before being cut off by boos from fellow lawmakers. "You can boo all you want but let's call it for what it is," the Memphis representative said. Last year the city of Memphis, which is majority black, was able to find a legal loophole to get rid of two Confederate statues and a bust by selling city parks to a nonprofit, which swiftly removed the monuments. Taken away under cover of darkness were statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Forrest was a general in the confederacy, a slave owner and a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. A bust of a Confederate soldier was also removed. Parkinson, who is African-American, said he was sick of how fellow lawmakers revered Forrest "as if he was God, as if he was an idol. You remove money from a city because we removed your God from our grounds." A Republican lawmaker from Chattanooga who grew up in Memphis told fellow lawmakers that he loved the city but this was about obeying at least the spirit of a law to protect historical monuments. "And the law was very clear, and they got smart lawyers to figure out how to wiggle around the law, and I think that's what the issue is," said Rep. Gerald McCormick.

(More Tennessee stories.)

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