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Council begins process of removing Nathan Bedford Forrest’s remains

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On Tuesday evening the Memphis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest's remains from under his statue in the Health Sciences Park on Union Avenue.

However, there is still a long road ahead before the remains would be moved to a new location.

According to the city council's attorney, Chancery Court would also have to sign off on the removal of the remains and the family of Forrest would be involved in the decision as well.

The removal of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a separate issue.

The removal of the statue has been proposed as an ordinance before the council which will have to be read before the council three times before it can be approved.

From there it will be presented to the Tennessee Historic Commission but there is no timeline for when they will make a decision.

The next time the commission is scheduled to meet is in October.

On Tuesday officials with Elmwood Cemetery said they would be willing to help with the moving of Forrest's and his wife's remains to the cemetery in Memphis but said they did not want to become the new home of the statue.

As of now it is unknown where the statue would go if the commission approves the removal.

"It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader, someone who was a racist on public property," said City Council member Myron Lowery.

Lowery has spear headed the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave and statue from the park once named after him.

Tuesday, Lowery said recent tragedies were what has propelled the change, two years after the city changed the park's name.

"It was clearly after what happened in South Carolina. It was clearly after what happened in the state capital of Tennessee," he said.

Sons of the Confederate Veterans spokesperson, Lee Millar, said last month's shooting proved why the statue should stay where it is at Health Science Park.

"I think it's disgusting that people use the shooting in Charleston and use those victims to forward their own agenda and join this anti Confederate hysteria that's going on," said Millar.

He called the response in Memphis and other parts of the country a knee jerk reaction.

"To attack something like that now I feel is just really misguided," he said.

Katherine Blalock, who lived in Whitehaven, said her great grandfather served in the Confederate Army with Forrest.

She was against the removal.

"We need to have a coming together of people, not a divide and conquer," she explained.

What will happen to Nathan Bedford Forrest's statue?

It could take months to get that answer, but Councilman Edmund Ford, Junior said there's a more important question that must be asked.

"Even when all the flags have been taken down and when all the artifacts have been moved, what do we do next as a people?" he asked.

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