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Sanford: Visitors’ ‘hate’ rally won’t change outcome

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For perhaps the first time ever, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and I are in agreement. We both believe that a planned rally in Memphis on Saturday to protest the removal of Confederate monuments from former city parks is an exercise in hate and racism.

That said, the right to peaceably assemble to express grievances is protected by the First Amendment and I support that right, even if the protesters are out-of-towners who have no say in how this city government conducts business.

The rally is being promoted on Facebook by a group calling itself Confederate 901. Hopefully they will merely drive by the parks where statues honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis were removed last month and move on.

A spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans is also correct to discourage his members from showing up on Saturday.

Local counter-protesters would also be wise to stay away and allow this meaningless event to come and go.

Reasonable people can disagree about removing the statues —including the way it was done by selling the parks to a nonprofit — for next to nothing. Lawsuits against the city are still being discussed and state lawmakers are promising investigations.

But in the end, city leaders legally accomplished the goal of taking down symbols of slavery and oppression.

No amount of Facebook chatter or half-baked protests will change it.