Removal of Confederate statues leads to mixed reactions

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Confederate statues have been a hot topic for months. People on both sides of the issue are extremely passionate.

Memphis city leaders decided to take action on their own by removing both the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue and the Jefferson Davis statue.

Many people are upset over the statues coming down, but the city could legally take this action.

The Tennessee Historical Committee told the city the could not remove the Confederate statues.

Related: Mayor says "History is being made in Memphis" as Confederate statues removed

So yesterday, council approved the sale of two of its parks t a non-profit group to make it happen.

Mayor Jim Strickland says they allowed the new "private" owners, Memphis Greenspace, to remove the statues.

A crowd formed here last night as the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue was lifted off it's perch, placed on a flatbed truck and taken away.

One pastor who worked to help get the statues down says there's still work to be done.

"There's always something that we have to fight for as long as there's injustice, which there is," said pastor Earle Fisher. "We have more work to do. So, we're here for social justice and liberation. We want this city to be all that it can be."

President of the National Civil Rights Museum, Terri Lee Freeman, says the statues represent the separate but equal laws of the Jim Crow era and symbolize "oppression, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism."

Lee Millar, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, took to social media to protest what happened.

Related: Mayor says "History is being made in Memphis" as Confederate statues removed

In a statement Millar said "at this moment, the city of Memphis and the sham non-profit it supposedly sold these parks to, which are located on Downtown parces worth millions, for $1,000 each are both in violation of the following statute. Not to mention, the provisions of the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act."

Mae Beavers, conservative Republican candidate for Governor, expressed concern over the statue removal.

“Our history is not perfect, nor are the historical figures who helped shape our state and nation, but it is wrong to destroy these public monuments suddenly and in the dark of night in order to cater to the politically motivated demands of those who want to cleanse our history," said Beavers.

Memphis Greenspace will now have to maintain these parks.

The local chapter of the NAACP also issued a statement saying history was being made in Memphis.

"History is being made with the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues from what are now privately owned parks. The NAACP Memphis Branch took a position early on stating we wanted the monuments removed and a legal process followed."

Rev. Walter Womack, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, commends "Mayor Stickland and his team as well as 'Take 'em Down 901' activist Tami Sawyer and all faith based leaders as we continue to take a stand against any representation of inequality and hatred in all facets of our society."

The Memphis City Council and Mayor Jim Strickland heard the voices of the people who wanted these removed and legally made it happen.

Groups like the NAACP and #Takeemdown901 led by Tami Sawyer have been heard.