Memphis, TN – Saturday a diverse crowd of Memphians gathered near the city’s downtown area to stand in support of the removal of a long-standing and controversial landmark. The park and statue named for Nathan Bedford Forrest is just one of several around the country. For many people in attendance at the protest, the presence of the statue represents a piece of history rooted in degradation and disenfranchisement to members of society whom find it offensive. Forrest, who died in 1877 was a Confederate army general during the American civil war; a time when the country was divided over the issued of slavery and the ensuing inhuman treatment of individuals who were subject to bondage.
With hundreds in attendance at the event several speakers addressed the crowd to relay their message of struggle as well as, their hope for Memphis and the nation at large that such symbols will ultimately be removed so that the U.S. may began to heal and made whole by reconciling a very fragmented past. The gathering in Memphis was just one of several of its kind happening across the country to protest such antiquated monuments. In reference to the statue event speaker and minster of Gifts of Life ministries, Andrew Johnson, stated “it was a rhetorical masterpieces that the confederate states of America erected statues in the United States of America to venerate their heroes.” In light of various protest around the country president Trump also released a statement via tweet saying, “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Nevertheless, one can learn from the past in the proper place and context however, symbolisms of divisiveness and intimidation should be examined and learned from behind closed doors. Not in a public space or park.
As the protest grew more intense few arrests were made (4-5) as law enforcement moved in to ensure that the statue was protected and not defaced. However, contrary to some accounts those detained were done so because they resisted as officers attempted to confiscate protest paraphernalia, i.e. banners, tarps, etc. not because they were on or near the statue’s platform. Some members of the crowd had tried to explain to officers that the cover-up of the statue would only be symbolic as a sign of solidarity and that it could simply be removed once the gesture had been made. However, officers insisted that crowd not make the attempt. The video above contains footage from the event. As of Saturday Trump posted another tweet in referencing the dichotomy in America. Below, view the tweet.
Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017