Police confront protesters at Forrest statue at midnight
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police quickly shut down an attempt Monday night to “take down” the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Downtown Memphis.
Community activists film as the police pull up to Health Sciences Park.
A Facebook Live video of the effort was posted by Hunter Demster around midnight. Officers told them they could not be in Health Sciences Park after 8 p.m.
“It took them seven minutes and 42 seconds to respond,” a person in the video says. “I mean, I think it’s obvious they’re watching our Facebook pages.”
Thirty to 40 people showed up at Health Sciences Park, Demster said. The group left, and no one was charged.
Police were seen monitoring the monument Tuesday morning.
Earlier Monday, someone placed a KKK hood on top of the statue. Forrest, a Confederate general, was a slave trader and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
“These are symbols of injustice.”Pastor Earle Fisher said. “Hate, bigotry and white supremacy, so power is always to the people.”
Confederate statues have been a heated topic lately and it’s one Ph.D. student David Maxson is currently studying.
“I found out there are all sorts of different ways that people who are invested in preserving the monuments can use,” Said Maxson, “legally speaking, to keep them up.”
Maxson says it’s been interesting seeing people take matters into their hands like in North Carolina.
“I wanted to see what it looks like,” Maxson said. “I was curious to see if there was going to be anyone else here if there was going to be anything on the statue.”
He says he personally feels these statues should be placed in a museum or a more private forum.
“In public places like this,” Maxson said, “having a notorious Confederate slave owner says a lot to I think the community about who’s valued and whose history is valued.”
Unedited video is below. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
Tuesday morning, state Rep. Raumesh Akbari, a Memphis Democrat and chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, asked that memorials to Forrest both in Memphis and at the Tennessee State Capitol be removed.
Memphis’ mayor and City Council, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, have strongly supported the removal of the Forrest monument in Memphis. Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday said he supports the removal of the memorial at the state capitol.
But those in favor of the statue staying say there are other factors to highlight.
“That’s a war monument in my opinion and I believe that Civil War soldiers are veterans,” said Chuck Kennedy a supporter of the statue, “just like World War One, World War Two veterans are.”