On Thursday, Tennessee House Majority Leader State Rep. Glen Casada (R-Thompsons Station) and Republican Caucus Chairman State Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) called for an investigation into the removal of two Confederate statues Wednesday evening from property that was owned by the City of Memphis until just a few hours earlier.
“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 statement began.
Casada and Williams noted that “within an hour following the vote … cranes were spotted shortly thereafter to remove both statues,” adding:
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,” the statement concluded.