(R-L) State Reps. Joe Towns Jr., G.A. Hardaway and Dwayne Thompson voice their support for the moves that led to the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue Wednesday night. (Photo: Johnathan Martin)

From grocery stores to chat rooms and myriad points in between and beyond, Memphians continued to decompress on Friday from the suddenly new reality that long-standing reminders of the Confederacy no longer occupied their prominent positions in two city parks.

In the new normal, the parks – Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park (Fourth Bluff) – no longer belong to the City of Memphis. They now are the property and responsibility of Memphis Greenspace, Inc., which secured ownership after a key vote by the Memphis City Council and Mayor Jim Strickland’s signature on the ordinance allowing the sale.

A short while later, workers hired by Memphis Greenspace, which is headed by Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner, moved quickly to remove the statues of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America.

Three state representatives – all Democrats – did their decompressing on Friday morning in front of the base that supported the Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park. The trio – House Assistant Minority Leader Joe Towns (District 84), Rep. G.A. Hardaway (District 93) and Rep. Dwayne Thompson (District 96) used a press conference to declare their support for the decision by the city to sell the two parks so that the Confederate monuments could be removed. They did so as some Republican lawmakers have said they want a probe of the City of Memphis’ move, with assertions that it violated state law.

“I’ve been dropping off Christmas baskets to senior citizens …I went by (the) house … (of) about a 90-year-old woman (who said) the first thing she did was jump for joy (about the Forrest statue’s removal),” Towns said. “She was very grateful that the symbol that she said had hurt her and her family for so many years actually was removed.”

There was praise aplenty from the legislators.

“We have a city council that’s about the business,” Hardaway said. “This was driven by the city council in collaboration with members of the county commission.”

The Forrest statue came down at 9:01 p.m.

Hardaway also took note of the activism of young people and members of #TakeEmDown901, which pressed aggressively for the statues’ removal.

“This was a great civics lesson for them,” Towns said. “You not willing to take some risks, you don’t need to be in the business.”

Towns also singled out local activist Tami Sawyer, the most vocal member of #TakeEmDown901.

“This crossed generations,” Hardaway added. “They chose to be uncomfortable when they could’ve been somewhere else.”

Thompson said, “The statue (of Forrest) was just simply a reminder of slavery, the confederacy (and) the city has moved on from that. We need to come together, come together in unity. We are a diverse city and we need to include all groups, all people.”

Harry Adams clearly was not happy about the city’s decision. He appeared at the press conference, aggressively inserting himself into the frame as it was about to begin. That provoked a brief — albeit tense — exchange between Towns and Adams shortly before the press conference got underway.

Later, Adams told The New Tri-State Defender, “I think the mayor should be led out in handcuffs … It’s not hatred (the Forrest statue). It’s a war memorial. It’s history.”

Declaring that he was a “tax-paying citizen,” Adams added that he was frustrated that the removal of the statues was not put to a public vote.

With the likelihood of a legal challenge to the removal of the statues looming, Towns said,

“Bring it. …“We’ve got good lawyers. Memphis is not afraid. We’re not intimidated by that. The intimidation is over.”