Lawmakers address removal of Confederate Statues

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. —It was a rainy Friday morning, but Tennessee House representatives that gathered in Health Sciences Park said it's beautiful as they no longer stand in the shadow of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

"It's quite simple. Public dollars should not finance those institutions of slavery, that remind us of slavery, that is put up merely as intimidation," Democratic Representative G. A. Hardway said.

Clutching their umbrellas, Tennessee representatives G.A. Hardway, Joe Towns Jr, and Dwayne Thompson discussed and recognized the efforts of many who throughout the years have pushed to get the statues down.

"It's been a long time coming," Representative Joe Towns Jr. said.

He said it's not the state's job, people who don't live in Memphis, like those in the Tennessee Historical Commission, to dictate what happens in the bluff city, acknowledging the argument some have made of backdoor dealings.

" It wasn't a back way of doing it by the city, it was a back way of doing it by the state. We serve at the state level. They blocked the hands of the city. The state tried to block the hands of the cities across the state. Ok? Because they wanna reach their hands down into the business of micromanaged cities. That's not the responsibility of the state," Towns said.

However several other lawmakers feel differently.

Republican Representative Glen Casada out of Williamson County is calling for an investigation.

He said his issues aren't so much about the statues.

" Is the city of Memphis protecting the taxpayers by giving away a park that's worth millions? Are they meeting in secret if they met and made this decision in secret, a clear violation of open meetings, what else are they doing behind closed doors? " Representative Casada said over the phone.

Concerned citizen was also at Health Sciences Park Friday.

" Just a historical monument, the city is thumbing their nose at the courts and the Historical Commission and they should be held accountable," said Harry Adams, who said he lives in east Memphis.

As far as lawsuits and investigations Towns has this message.

"We're not intimidated by that. The intimidation is over. Bring it," Towns said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland as well as multiple city council members said everything was done legally.

The two parks, once home to the statues, were sold for $1,000 each to private group Memphis Greenspace, that is in the process of obtaining a 501(c) (3) .

The statues were removed Wednesday night.

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