Memphis group fighting to remove confederate statues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis group promises to make a fresh push to take down confederate statues here in Memphis and have plans to hold a community forum on June 20th. Any new effort will be met by same resistance as before promises relatives of the confederate dead.

FOX13 discovered that first hand while interviewing local community activist Tammi Sawyer in Mississippi River Park or Jefferson Davis Park depending on your point of view.

"There is a man behind you with a confederate flag. He came over here to wave his confederate flag in my face" said Tammi Sawyer.

An organic, but uncomfortable moment as FOX13 interviewed Sawyer who came face to face with a confederate monument supporter from Virginia who had his rebel flag with him.

His name is Kelly Bowles.  "Ma'am,  I am sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen" said Bowles to an uncomfortable Sawyer who replied "I did not ask for you to come over."

Bowles is visiting Memphis, but he wanted to visit the parks where defeated Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest statues still stand.

"He was like it says right there, a true American patriot and he was American before he was a confederate" said Bowles who belongs to the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Virginia.

"What other countries can you go to where there are streets and schools named after people who lost the war?," Sawyer asked.

Memphis activists want to renew their push to erase the public vestiges of the confederacy after New Orleans recently removed its confederate statues.

Sawyer told FOX13 "One option is to take the waiver again from the residents, right.  So there is power in numbers. So maybe we get a petition going."

State Law makes it difficult to remove statues and change the names of confederate parks. Only the Tennessee Historical Commission can grant a waiver and is debating a 2015 request to have Nathan Bedford  Forrest remains moved.  "If we have to take to this to Supreme Court we will fight it" Sawyer told FOX13.

Should this new fight play itself out before historical commission members or the courts, Sawyer and supporter can expect to come face to face with confederate supporters both local and out of state.

"Someone is going to try it here in Memphis, I am sure of it" said Bowles.