Tennessee Capitol Commission votes against removing bust honoring Confederate general

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NASHVILLE (WATE) — In Nashville, the Tennessee Capitol Commission took the first steps to not remove a bust of a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army.

The commission voted 7-5 against removing the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest. The bust sits between the Tennessee House and Senate on the second floor of the state capitol. Voting members include the Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and State Comptroller, along with several lawmakers and private citizens.

Larry Martin, the chair of the Tennessee Capitol Commission and a commissioner for finance and administration made a motion to move Bedford’s bust from the Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum. State Treasurer David Lillard said he thinks the Forrest bust should be rotated with other historical statues at the Capitol.

The Forrest bust has been the target of protests for years. The latest push to remove it comes after violent protests started by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gov. Bill Haslam urged the Capitol Commission to take action, saying, “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.”

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander also came out in favor of removal. The senator said, “There is a place for General Forrest’s bust, but not in a place of honor at the state capitol.” Instead, he said that place of honor should have Tennesseans like “Roots” author Alex Haley, Senator Howard Baker, or World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York.

The renewed debate comes after a violent protest and clash between white nationalist groups and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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