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Tennessee House Republicans Call For Investigation Of Removal Of Confederate Statues

NASHVILLE, Tenn (localmemphis.com) - Tennessee House Republicans Thursday called for an investigation after the removal of Confederate statues in Memphis.

The TN GOP says multiple questions have been raised involving the legality of the removal of the statues and sale of the parks including:

  *   Did Memphis officials violate sunshine laws by coordinating this sale outside of the public eye?
  *   Did anyone gain financially from the rapid and clear undervalued sale of these two properties?
  *   Were existing state statutes violated related to the removal or relocation of these memorials?

With these questions still unanswered, House Majority Leader Glen Casada and House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams say that they will immediately begin working with House Speaker Beth Harwell, Attorney General Herbert Slatery and the State Comptroller's Office to investigate the matter and recommend action to the full body of the legislature.

Wednesday the Memphis City Council unanimously approved the sale of Health Sciences Park where a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest stood and Confederate Park where there was a statue of Jefferson Davis.  The sale was made to a non-profit, Memphis Greenspace, Inc.

Immediately after the sale was final, Memphis Greenspace began removing both statues.

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Joint statement from Majority Leader Glen Casada (R–Thompson's Station) and Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R–Cookeville):

“Last night, the Memphis City Council unanimously approved the sale of the Health Sciences Park and Fourth Bluff Park under the cover of night to a private entity. For years, these two parks have housed the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis.

The Shelby County Mayor signed off on this sale within an hour following the vote and cranes were spotted shortly thereafter to remove both statues.

Multiple questions have been raised involving the legality of these actions, including:

  *   Did Memphis officials violate sunshine laws by coordinating this sale outside of the public eye?

  *   Did anyone gain financially from the rapid and clear undervalued sale of these two properties?

  *   Were existing state statutes violated related to the removal or relocation of these memorials?

With these and many additional questions still unanswered, we will immediately begin work in conjunction with the Speaker, the Attorney General, the Comptroller's office, and other stakeholders to further investigate this situation and recommend action to the full body of the legislature.

The Tennessee Historical Commission has already voted to deny the city's application to remove these statues and this decision in Shelby County, at a minimum, completely violates both the spirit and intent of state law in protecting Tennessee history. We are governed by the rule of law here in Tennessee and these actions are a clear infringement of this principle and set a dangerous precedence for our state.

We look forward to beginning this investigation and addressing this important constitutional issue as we prepare for the 2018 legislative session in Nashville.​”

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(TN DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS STATEMENT)

Leaders of the Tennessee Democratic Caucus today expressed support for the removal of two Confederate monuments that stood in parks formerly owned by the city of Memphis.  The two public parks were sold by the city yesterday to a non-profit group which removed the statues last night.  State law prevented the City from removing the statutes. 

Caucus leaders said they fully support the City of Memphis in removing all symbols of hate from public places.  Caucus Vice-Chairman Antonio Parkinson said “We applaud Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis City Council for finding a way to clear a path for a future where the citizens of Memphis don’t have to be reminded of how their ancestors were brutalized, raped and forcibly separated from their families through the institution of slavery.” 

Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh also praised the removal, saying in a tweet that “last night was Exhibit A to the love and affection I have for the Bluff City.” 

Assistant Minority Leader Joe Towns says he other delegation members will hold a news conference tomorrow at 10:30AM at Health Sciences Park where the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest once stood to express solidarity with the city.


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