The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) do not have standing to stop the removal of Confederate statutes at parks the City of Memphis had sold to Memphis Greenspace.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered Memphis Greenspace Inc. 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, The Tennessee Star reported in January 2018.
Memphis Greenspace is the nonprofit owned by Shelby County Commissioner Val Turner who ‘bought‘ and removed the statues in a questionable transaction with the City of Memphis in December 2017, The Star said. The city sold the parks for only $1,000 each.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans had filed for injunctive relief, according to the appeals court ruling.
Prior to filing its complaint, the society filed a petition for declaratory relief with the Tennessee Historical Commission that sought a declaration on the applicability of the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016 (“THPA”) to two parks and related monuments
In the present action, the historical-preservation society requested a temporary injunction under the THPA to preserve the parks and monuments pending the Commission’s final order. The trial court found the society could not prevail on the merits of its claim because the parks and monuments were no longer public property and, thus, were no longer subject to the THPA. Having determined that the historical- preservation society failed to assert a viable cause of action under the THPA, we affirm.
Local 24 News quoted SCV member Lee Millar saying the men depicted by the statues were American veterans it is wrong to erase history. The organization said they would appeal.
The TV station also quoted Bruce McMullen, the city’s chief legal officer, as saying he believes Memphis Greenspace will try to find an “appropriate permanent home” for the statues.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.