Memphis Activists Attempt To Dig Up Confederate General’s Grave

Memphis activists target Confederate monuments after failed attempt to dig up general’s grave

June 20, 2017
By Victor Skinner

Social justice warriors in Memphis, Tennessee are staging a rally to pressure city officials into removing Confederate statues in the community, the latest stunt aimed at snubbing out the region’s forefathers.

Organizers for the group that calls itself “Take Em Down 901” are advertising the protest at Bruce Elementary School on Bellevue Boulevard for 6 p.m. Tuesday “to discuss action steps to remove Confederate statues in Memphis,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

The group is led by Tami Sawyer, “a political leader, speaker, writer & activist for Social Justice and Educational Equity.”

Sawyer told WMC last week that she’s leading a boycott of the city’s famed 4th Bluff Park until the city removes statue of Jefferson Davis, and her group is urging the public to avoid scheduled summer events like “Downtown Yoga in the Park” and an art show until they get their way.

“Having the statutes (sic) is another thing that says black people don’t matter in Memphis,” she said.

The meeting on Tuesday is centered on promoting the boycott, though even those who support the cause don’t seem to think it’s the brightest idea.

“It has to be something more than just boycotting the parks because not everyone is going to follow that,” Memphis resident Neely Jones said. “As beautifully as the statue is decorated. I’m an artist and can appreciate that, it’s still standing for something that the entire country said we are not having it.”

The organized boycott comes after many of the same activists took it upon themselves to attempt to dig up the grave of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest last summer.

“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, a failed congressional candidate and head of the “Commission on Religion and Racism” told awaiting TV crews as he shoved chunks of grass and soil from Forrest’s grave site.

Richmond told CBS 3 that digging up Forrest, who died 138 years ago, would fix the city’s alleged problems with racism.

“If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone,” Richmond said, shovel in hand. “We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”

They didn’t.

Instead, the city’s social justice warriors pressured the city council into voting to remove Forrest’s body somewhere more to their liking.

The city council also voted last year to remove Forrest’s statue in Health Sciences Park, though the move was blocked by the Tennessee Historical Commission, which must give approval to locals to remove monuments erected to honor military figures.

The city has not pursued efforts to remove the Jefferson Davis statue, according to WMC.

And while Sawyer, Richmond and their supporters are plotting further actions to press the issue, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are defending the honor of their ancestors and calling out the “historical terrorists” for the attempts to erase history.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans issued a statement to WMC that states Memphis “does not need to become the laughing stock of the country again as has the city of New Orleans,” which is also embroiled in a controversy surrounding Confederate symbols in the city.

“Those who tear down historic monuments are no better than Nazis or ISIS,” the statement read. “They are historical terrorists. The TearDownMemphis or TakeEmDown group bears the same characteristics.

“Our historical monuments, especially including the two largest Confederate monuments, are a tribute to those honored city residents of our nation’s past. They certainly do not signify white supremacy or anything of the sort. Both Jefferson Davis and N.B. Forrest are veterans of the United States military and of the Confederate States.”

The group also vowed to take actions of their own if the city’s social justice crusaders continue to push the issue.

“The Sons of Confederate Veterans vehemently opposes the removal or destruction of any memorial, monument or grave site and will stand against such actions, including to the extent of taking legal action,” the statement read.

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