Judge rules Memphis maneuver to remove Confederate statues was legal

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled Wednesday that the City of Memphis had a legal right to sell two city parks to a nonprofit organization that then removed Confederate monuments from the premises, reports the Commercial Appeal.

She also lifted an injunction preventing the nonprofit, Memphis Greenspace Inc., from finding a new home for the statues of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, President Jefferson Davis and Capt. J Harvey Mathes… though giving the plaintiff, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 215, time to appeal and seek a new injunction.

Following the ruling, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland tweeted: “This ruling reaffirms what we’ve said from the start: Everything was handled in a lawful manner.”

Tami Sawyer, who helped lead the grassroots TakeEmDown901 movement against the statues, said the ruling was a significant victory in a generations-long fight against “structures of hatred.”

“You lost the Civil War, and you just lost this one, too,” Sawyer said. “It’s time to move on. It’s even more of a lost cause to keep on fighting us on these statues.”

… Lyle rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans argument that Greenspace was a “sham” set up by the city for the sole purpose of circumventing the strict Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which requires the Tennessee Historical Commission to approve the removal of any statues from public property.

“The wording of the law, the 2016 Act, does not apply to private property,” she said in her ruling. “Yet, the Statues were located on and were removed from private property. Thus, this Court is not empowered to issue an injunction concerning the Statues, and it must dissolve the temporary restraining order.”

The ruling means Memphis Greenspace can begin planning for the future of the statues, moving them to an appropriate place as opposed to a public park, (Greenspace Director Van) Turner said.

“I think that allows us to really get serious about transferring the statues to any number of Civil War memorial parks or museums,” he said.

Note: The full opinion is HERE.

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