State panel rejects removing Forrest statue from state Capitol

The Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bid by Tennessee’s governor to remove a bust of Confederate cavalry general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol building has been rejected.

The State Capitol Commission voted 7-5 on Friday against petitioning for moving the bust from the Capitol to the new state museum being built nearby. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam called for the removal after last month’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Forrest amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis before enlisting. State lawmakers voted to place his bust in the Capitol more than a century after the end of the Civil War.

Comptroller Justin Wilson spoke out against the unelected panel overruling the Legislature’s vote to place the bust in the Capitol.

The bust at the state Capitol was unveiled in 1978.