On July 22 a group of protesters from the Commission on Religion and Racism (CRR) used a shovel and “dug up a patch of grass next to” Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Memphis statue, saying they hope others “follow suit and dig him up.”
On July 7 the Memphis City Council voted to exhume the body of Forrest–and well as his wife–and to sell the city’s statue of him “to anyone who wants it.” However, following the vote The Tennessean reported that the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act makes clear that “no statue, monument, memorial, nameplate or plaque” erected to honor a number of wars, including the Civil War, that is on public property “may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed.”
So there is a legal process that must be undertaken before anything can be done to or with Forrest’s grave.
And this is where members of the CRR come in–they say they are tired of waiting and are therefore starting the dig themselves. News Channel 3 reports that CRR member Isaac Richmond said, “If [Forrest’s] gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone. We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”
And Richmond made clear that they aren’t done: “We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis.”
Forrest family spokesperson Lee Miller said the Commission on Religion and Racism “can protest all they want. Just because they don’t like it doesn’t mean they are right. Digging up this park is pure and simple vandalism.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.