Published: Fri, April 20, 2018

Tennessee House Votes To Withhold $250K From Memphis As Punishment

Tennessee House Votes To Withhold $250K From Memphis As Punishment

The Tennessee House of Representatives pulled $250,000 in funding from Memphis in protest of the city's removal of Confederate monuments from public parks.

Ahead of the city's 200th anniversary in May 2019, Memphis government officials have been working on a plan that Mayor Jim Strickland (D) calls "Memphis 3.0".

The retaliation came in the form of passage of a last-minute amendment attached to the House appropriations bill that triggered heated debate on the House floor and stinging rebukes from lawmakers from Memphis. "Memphis is a city in this state, and I am sick of people in this House acting like it's not".

Although out of sight, the Confederate statues remain in storage until the courts decide what to do with the symbols of a failed rebellion that endorsed an economy and society built upon slavery.

"What this amendment does is it removes $250,000 from the budget that is designated to go to the city of Memphis for their bicentennial celebration", said GOP State Rep. Steve McDaniel while justifying his support for punishing the city.

Memphis facilitated the removal of the monuments by selling city parks to a non-profit group which removed statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, the AP reported. "If you recall, back in December, Memphis did something that removed historical markers in the city". The move drew outcries from Memphis lawmakers who called it vile, racist and un-Christian. That evening, the nonprofit took down the monuments.

"I know some of you all would be happy if we gave the doggone part of the state to Arkansas", Rep. Raumesh Akbari, said. "The law was very clear, and they got smart lawyers to figure out how to wiggle around the law".

Republican Rep. Sabi Kumar of Springfield said revoking the funding was not about Christianity, "This is politics".

Democrat Bo Mitchell warned of "bad consequences", not just in Memphis or Tennessee, but nationwide. "I think the question of local monuments should be a local question, and this only shows the unwillingness of state lawmakers to try and understand what goes on in Memphis". "Because what you're doing here today is the bad actions of someone who brought arms against their nation and fought against our country, committed treason, then was a proven war criminal, and was slave trader", he said, referring to Forrest.

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