City of Memphis to sue Tenn. to get Confederate statues removed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis is prepared to sue the state to remove confederate statues from city owned land.

The fight over what happens next to the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues could go all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said, “I think one thing that is for sure, there is no place in the city of Memphis for signs or symbols of hatred, bigotry or racism.”

The city must get approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission before it can be removed.  It’s being fought in court right now.

City Attorney Bruce McMullen said, “We're not hopeful that we'll win on that level.”  But that’s just one confederate statue the city has on their land.  The other is Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

McMullen said the city will add him to the list of statues they want down on an amended waiver adding if that is denied, “We are prepared to go all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court on this issue.”  The city has a second option.

They can donate or sell the land to a private owner who could then bypass the state and remove the statues.

McMullen said the legal fight wouldn’t go away, “so that donor or that recipient would essentially be buying a lawsuit and buying litigation.”

The city plans to file the new waiver in the next 30 days.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, a proponent of having the statues removed said in a statement:.

"It's great to see more citizens join the cause we've been working on for years. We continue to be actively engaged in exploring all avenues to remove the Confederate statues in our city."  The Confederate Sons of Veterans, a group fighting to keep the statues, sent a statement saying in full "The City of Memphis should in NO way want to remove statues and monuments to our history.  These monuments are part of our development and both Jefferson Davis and Bedford Forrest were US Army veterans as well as leaders in the Confederate States.  Both lived in Memphis and contributed to its rebuilding and renewal after the War For Southern Independence.  The City of Memphis should NOT play the part of ISIS historical terrorists in attempting to remove our historical monuments.  Such actions are an insult to the families and citizens -- and all veterans -- of our city, county, state, and country.  Leave the monuments and leave history alone." 

FOX13 asked Reverend Jesse Jackson about Memphis' Confederate statues when the Civil Rights icon was in town on Monday.

"There are no statues of Hitler in Germany today. The losers are vanquished. We have one American flag. The heroes are those who fight to save the union from secession. Who fought to end slavery. The best America is the America without slavery," said Rev. Jackson.