A group of anti-Confederate protesters aren’t happy enough with the declaration by the city of Memphis that it wants to dig up and move the remains of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.
They want it done now.
A group surrounded a shovel Wednesday and ceremoniously removed a chunk of grass and soil.
“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,” Isaac Richmond with the “Commission on Religion and Racism” declared to awaiting TV cameras, CBS 3 reported.
Richmond ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year.
He believes if the general who died 137 years ago can just be eliminated, that will really help things.
“If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone,” he said, shovel in hand. “We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”
Others see their actions as little more than destruction of property.
“They can protest all they want. Just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean they are right. Digging up the park is just pure and simple vandalism,” says Lee Millar, spokesman Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We really don’t want to make this a confrontation. We just want to say hey, we want to get on with it!” Richmond insists.
In early July, the Memphis city council voted unanimously to dig up Forrest’s body and move it somewhere else.
“It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader, someone who was a racist on public property,” City Council member Myron Lowery said at the time.
Because of the bureaucracy, Forrest’s remains and the statue dedicated to him are regulated by different agencies.
According to the city council’s attorney, Chancery Court would also have to sign off on the removal of the remains and the family of Forrest would be involved in the decision as well.
The removal of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a separate issue.
The removal of the statue has been proposed as an ordinance before the council which will have to be read before the council three times before it can be approved.
From there it will be presented to the Tennessee Historic Commission but there is no timeline for when they will make a decision.
That’s all taking too long for the activists. They want it done now.