Tennessee Historical Commission denies city’s request on Confederate statues

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ATHENS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Historical Commission denied the city's request for a waiver that would immediately remove two controversial statues from city-owned property in Memphis.

However, a declaratory order was approved with 23 votes. This order means they plan to seek legal advice on the Forrest statue waiver before a vote.

According to state law, the Commission must act within 60 or by November 12, since the order was filed on September 13.

The news comes after the group heard from both supporters and opponents of the statues' removal.

In his address, Mayor Jim Strickland urged the Commission to vote in favor of a petition that seeks to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues, stating the city is "as united as I've ever seen it."

"I ask the Commission to hear our petition today. I ask a member of the Commission to make a motion to that effect today."

"Make no mistake: We have respected this process," the mayor added. "Now, we you to respect the will of Memphis."

During the address, he stated the city plans to safely remove the statue and place it somewhere where it can be viewed in a correct context and as what it is — a monument to Jim Crow and white supremacy.

Something the city of Memphis doesn't represent.

Opponents of the statues' removal were also allowed to speak during the meeting, one of whom pointed out the city of Memphis didn't take the necessary steps following the Commission's Gatlinburg meeting. It was during that meeting that the Commission denied the initial request.

"Law is clear that if you don't file an appeal the judgement is final. It's called a final order. They had their chance in Gatlinburg," he said.

He also stated the city of Memphis wasn't presenting all the facts including that the statue itself is a headstone.

Furthermore, in 2009, he said city leaders filed an application with the National Park Service to have the statue placed on the national registry and "bragged" on the statues. Several years later, the city came back and was seeking to purchase a new marker for the location.