Thousands raised for Memphis after state’s ‘punishment’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tennessee State Lawmakers say it's pretty much a done deal Memphis will not get $250,000 from the state for its bicentennial celebration.

The House and the Senate both voted on the budget on Thursday without setting the money aside.

Now, the bill is on its way to Governor Bill Haslam's desk. Lawmakers say it's very unlikely he'd veto it.

Earlier this week, representatives voted to punish the City of Memphis for taking down three Confederate monuments last year.

Mayor Jim Strickland said he's not phased by it.

“It was still the right thing to do and it’s still 100% legal," he said.

Memphis city leaders sold the public parks the statues were in to a nonprofit in December.

The monuments came down moments after.

Some argue the method was unlawful.

And this week the state voted to punish the city for removing them by taking away $250,000 worth of funding for our bicentennial event.

“We knew something might happen and we’ve been working against it, so it’s not completely unexpected," said Strickland.

He said the city never knew it was going to get that money in the first place and didn’t even budget for it.

So the punishment isn’t hurting the bicentennial event.

In fact, it may be helping.

More than 1,500 people have since donated to a GoFundMe page to raise the quarter of a million dollars.

“I think it’s great," said Strickland. "I mean it’s incredible that so many Memphians are stepping up and defending our city.”

But it’s not just Memphians.

We spoke with one woman who donated from across the country.

“I want to let people know there are lots of people in the country who are behind them and support their decision to get rid of the statues," said Kit Ward-Crixell who lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Others told us their donations were a way to stand up for Memphis and show it’s not a city to be messed with -- Responding to anger with positivity.

The mayor said he has plans to meet with the GoFundMe organizer to work out how those funds can be used toward the bicentennial event.