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Statues draw action from City Council, UTHSC students and state lawmakers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council on Friday scheduled a discussion of immediate removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest state, as several dozen students at University of Tennessee Health Science Center walked out of class to protest the statue that sits in a public park across from the campus.

“It’s a reminder of something that needs to go away, so let’s make it go away,” said one demonstrator.

The Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial and gravesite sits in Health Sciences Park on Union Avenue. UTHSC’s campus surrounds the park.

Meanwhile, the Memphis City Council is set to discuss the “immediate removal” and sale of the Forrest statue and the Jefferson Davis statue located Downtown in its executive committee meeting Tuesday. The item is scheduled for a 2:25 p.m. discussion in Room 501 of City Hall.

Also Friday, state Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, filed legislation to exempt Shelby County from the Heritage Protection Act, to allow the city to make its own decisions about the removal of Confederate monuments.

“I believe in the people of Memphis to work with our own local officials to make the best decisions for our city,” Kyle said in a release. “People in Memphis have made it abundantly clear they don’t want a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in their park. We shouldn’t have to wait for the historic commission to sign off and tell us what we’re allowed to do.”

Senate Bill 1467, filed Friday afternoon, would merely amend the Heritage Protection Act of 2016 to exclude any memorial on public property with a population greater than 900,000.