City Attorney Allen Wade presented four options for the immediate removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues from the city to the executive committee of the Memphis City Council
Wade says the four concepts were presented to the council so they could provide direction on which will move forward with a resolution to be visited at the next meeting on September 5.
The first option — immediate removal of the statues — is the most drastic, says Wade, and cannot be done without a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC), but could work if the case is made that the statues are "public nuisances." He says the argument could be made that these statues prevent certain groups of people from enjoying those public spaces.
However, Wade says he would not take this action without first alerting the Tennessee Attorney General. "I don't think we should just go and yank them down tomorrow without some due process," he said.
Option two, Wade says, is to sell the monuments at an auction or private sale. This also cannot be done without a waiver. But, Wade says if there is a specified, designated resting place for the statues, that could aid in the waiver process.
Wade says the multi-step waiver process, which includes hearings, petitions, and votes, will take at least a year.
"It is probably easier to have someone executed by lethal injection in Tennessee, than getting a waiver," Wade said.
The third option Wade presented is to request Gov. Bill Haslam to seek a special session of the Tennessee Historical Commission to consider the City's waiver request, anticipating the commission might waive some of the requirements.
The final option is for the City to board up the statues, which he says the City already has the authority to do.
Council chairman Berlin Boyd urged his colleagues to look at the issue and the four options very closely. He says "it is frustrating and negative to know that we have something that represents bigotry and hatred in our city."