Group Demands Removal Of Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust From State Capitol

Posted at 12:32 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 19:46:11-04

A group of protesters gathered inside the rotunda of the Tennessee State Capitol to demand the removal of a statue of KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the building.

The bust of the Confederate general and first “Grand Wizard” of the KKK has stood between the state House and Senate chambers for years.

Calls to remove the bust were made by citizens and politicians on both sides of the aisle in 2015 after the killing of nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The State Capitol Commission ultimately decided to delay any decisions on the bust, opting instead to review all the historical figures honored at the Tennessee statehouse and its grounds.

Several dozen people rallied in front of the bust Monday at noon, singing songs and making demands to the legislature and governor to remove the statue.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam issued a statement Monday afternoon, agreeing with the group but saying the normal process of law should be used. 

“My position on this issue has not changed," he said. "I do not believe Nathan Bedford Forrest should be one of the individuals we honor at the Capitol. The General Assembly has established a process for addressing these matters and I strongly encourage the Capitol Commission and the Historical Commission to act.”

The renewed effort came after 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr. was accused of driving his car into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. The group was formed as a counter protest at a white supremacist rally.

A 32-year-old paralegal identified at Heather Heyer was killed, and 20 people were injured in the attack.