Demonstrators and Sons of Confederate Veterans respond to planned discussion of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — For the past four years, dialogue surrounding the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust has been divisive.

The statue inside the Tennessee capitol building pays homage to the Confederate general and early leader of Ku Klux Klan. Nathan Bedford Forrest Forrest later left the supremacist group.

On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee announced that the State Capitol Commission will convene on Thursday, July 9 to discuss the future of the bust.

Since June 12, demonstrators have been camped outside the capitol demanding the statue be removed.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] will mark 20 days and we’ve been consistently out here – rain or shine, after numerous arrests and raids, and yet people are continuing to hold the space.” said activist Justin Jones.

Demonstrators refer to the area they’re occupying as ‘The People’s Plaza.’

Jones told News 2 that he and his peers believe the statue should be removed, “Relics of the past, a past we should not be proud of – that belongs in a museum. It does not belong in a place of honor in the capitol.”

During Lee’s Wednesday afternoon press briefing he said, “It is my expectation that they will vote on whether or note to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. I’ll make a specific proposal for what they’ll vote on next week.”

Lee wouldn’t comment further on what that proposal would be.

News 2’s CB Cotton reached out to the attorney representing descendents of Forrest and The Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The attorney sent this statement:

“On behalf of my clients the Forrest Family descendants (the surviving great-great-grandsons of General Forrest and his wife Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest), and the Sons of Confederate Veterans – Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp No. 215, we believe that it is important to honor historical figures that have had an impact on the State of Tennessee, whether during times of prosperity, strife or war.  General Nathan Bedford Forrest is one of those significant historical figures who should be remembered for his military genius as a battlefield commander.  While it is certain that no person today, or any historical figure is without fault or blemish, we can remember their contributions on a state and even national level.  However, my clients recognize that despite the aspects of his life that are troubling when viewed through the lens of the twenty-first century, it was this very man who eloquently addressed the members of the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Union (a precursor of the NAACP) on July 4, 1875, and called for unity between the races, and who pledged his support in all of their endeavors as he believed that “[w]e have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. [w]e may differ in color, but not in sentiment.”

“The Forrest Family and Camp 215 support keeping the bust in its place. However, with that said, my clients also recognize the anguish people feel at the mention of the name of General Forrest, nevertheless, they believe that respectful dialogue will lead to solid resolutions.”

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