In retaliation for removing two Confederate monuments last year, the Republican-led Tennessee House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to punish the city of Memphis by stripping $250,000 away from their budget, earmarked for a bicentennial celebration next year. The statues depicted Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a slave owner and prominent leader within the Ku Klux Klan.
After the tragic events of Charlottesville and President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn violent neo-Nazis chanting anti-Semitic slogans, the city of Memphis discovered a legal loophole allowing them to sell the city parks to a nonprofit, who swiftly removed the statues and the bust of a Confederate soldier. Due to the fact that the majority of Memphis’ population is black, the monuments merely served as a constant reminder of the perpetual racism throughout the country that still exists to this day.
On Tuesday, Republican-dominated House in Tennessee voted to strip away $250,000 from Memphis’ bicentennial celebration next year in retaliation for removing the historical monuments. The amendment was sponsored by Matthew Hill, a Republican from Jonesborough.
“This amendment and the explanation, it is hateful, it is unkind, it is un-Christian-like and it is unfair, okay?” said Democratic Rep. Raumesh Akbari. “Memphis is a city in this state, and I am sick of people in this House acting like it is not.”
“I think the city of Memphis, like any other city in the nation, needs to if not obey the law, at least obey the spirit of the law,” stated Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga. “The law was very clear, and they got smart lawyers to figure out how to wiggle around the law.”
“This is politics. What was done in Memphis, in removing the monuments, was basically a sneaky thing to do,” claimed Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield.
“Today is a demonstration that bad actions have bad consequences, and my only regret about this is it’s not in the tune of millions of dollars,” admitted Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, on Tuesday.
“Because what you’re doing here today is the bad actions of someone who brought arms against their nation and fought against our country, committed treason, then was a proven war criminal, and was slave trader,” Democrat Bo Mitchell of Nashville said, referring to Forrest. “You’re going to choose to honor that person here on this floor today and hold it against a city.”
Although out of sight, the Confederate statues remain in storage until the courts decide what to do with the symbols of a failed rebellion that endorsed an economy and society built upon slavery.