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Confederate statue ordinance vote on hold

Memphis City Council members have shelved voting on an ordinance that could result in the immediate removal of the Confederacy-saluting statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Health Sciences Park and Jefferson Davis from Fourth Bluff Park.

The plan now is to await the outcome of the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC) meeting on Friday, Oct. 13.

The move to delay final consideration of the ordinance, which was set for a final reading on Tuesday, came at the recommendation of City Council Attorney Alan Wade. The action, said Wade, would give the state historical commission the chance to “do the right thing.”

The proposed ordinance uses language that would declare the statues public nuisances and open the door for them to be removed or covered up.

The THC sent notification last week that the City of Memphis’ waiver request to move the statue of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest would not be heard at the Oct. 13 meeting because it did not making the agenda in time. The earliest the request could be heard is February 2018, the THC wrote.

The commission is expected to approve new guidelines that dictate waiver applications. Until then, the THC is not adding any waiver requests to agenda meetings.

Mayor Jim Strickland, who wants to weigh all legal options before taking action on the statues, said he intends attend the Oct. 13 meeting. The commission’s administration had moved unilaterally to delay the city’s request, said Strickland, who committed to “make a personal request of the 29 commissioners for them to hear our waiver petition.”

No waiver has yet been submitted to the commission to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, who was the only president of the Confederate States of America.

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