Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered Memphis Greenspace Inc. – the nonprofit owned by Shelby County Commissioner Val Turner who ‘bought‘ two statues in a questionable transaction with the City of Memphis – to maintain and preserve the statues of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, President Jefferson Davis, and Captain J. Harvey Mathes until a contested case hearing is held with the Tennessee Historical Commission within the next 60 days.
The Commercial Appeal reports:
The commission, which rejected the city’s request for a waiver to remove the Forrest statue in October, will determine whether the city violated state law when it sold the parks and statues to Greenspace for a total of $2,000 on Dec. 20, making the parks and the statues private property.
State laws require the commission’s approval before removal of historical monuments — but only if the monuments are on public property.
The 16-page order’s temporary injunction was a partial, if unsurprising, win for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 215 as the organization seeks to return the statues to Health Sciences and Fourth Bluff parks in Downtown Memphis.
“It’s not over — but today was an important day,” said Doug Jones, attorney for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
After reviewing the case, Lyle said a “pause” in the case was “warranted.”
“That is because the record thus far shows a speedy sale to Greenspace; removal of the statues at night within hours of council approval of the sale terms; and from the face of the sale documents indications of continuing de facto management by the city, and low sales prices,” she wrote in her order.
However, Lyle also denied a request by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to inspect the artwork to check for damages due to their hasty removal by workers overnight just before Christmas on December 21, 2017.
Additionally, The Commercial Appeal reports Judge Lyle ordered Memphis Greenspace Inc. demonstrate it has the financial ability to properly store and care for the statues on or before Wednesday, January 31.
Memphis City Attorney Bruce McMullen reacted to the Court’s decision in a statement saying he is confident “that our actions will withstand that scrutiny and those challenges,” according to The Appeal.
Tami Sawyer, whom The Appeal describes as a grassroots leader of ‘TakeEmDown901,’ but is also a candidate for District 7 Shelby County Commissioner, reacted Monday afternoon to the ruling in a tweet, saying, “Continuing the trend of our state protecting statues more than people.”
Continuing the trend of our state protecting statues more than people. https://t.co/ptmSj5zRCV
— Tami Sawyer (@tamisawyer) January 29, 2018
According to a recent Tennessee Star Poll, 64 percent of Tennessee Republican likely primary voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the removal of these monuments, while 26 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the removal of these monuments.