Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sen. Kyle Offers Bill to Allow Statue Removal

Would exempt Shelby County from provisions of Heritage Protecton Act requiring 2/3 waiver vote for action on monuments.

Posted By on Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 5:52 PM

State Sen. Sara Kyle
  • State Sen. Sara Kyle
As Memphis city government ponders its best strategy for removing two offending Confederate statues in downtown Memphis parks — those of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis — a Memphis legislator has filed a bill that would facilitate such action.

The legislation by State Senator Sara Kyle (D-District 30) would exempt Shelby County from the Heritage Protection Act, a measure hastily passed in 2016 to prevent what was then (and remains) an official resolve from Mayor Jim Strickland and the City council to remove the Forrest statue from what is now Health Sciences Park on Union.

The 2016 act mandates that any such removal of a war memorial can only be authorized by a waiver, requiring a two-thirds vote by the members of the state Historical Commission. A city request was rejected by the Commission in October last year, but another effort to gain a waiver will be made at the Commission’s forthcoming meeting in Nashville this October.

Here is the press release announcing Senator Kyle’s action:

Legislation filed Friday exempts Shelby from Heritage Protection Act

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Sara Kyle has filed legislation to exempt Shelby County from the Heritage Protection Act, to allow the city to make its own decisions about the removal of Confederate monuments.

“I believe in the people of Memphis to work with our own local officials to make the best decisions for our city,” Sen. Sara Kyle said. “People in Memphis have made it abundantly clear they don't want a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in their park. We shouldn't have to wait for the historic commission to sign off and tell us what we're allowed to do.”

Senate Bill 1467, filed Friday afternoon, would merely amend the Heritage Protection Act of 2016 to exclude any memorial on public property with a population greater than 900,000.

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