Initial action expected soon on removing Forrest bust from Tennessee capitol

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There are indications that two state commissions called out by Governor Bill Haslam could soon deal with the lingering issue of the state capitol’s Nathan Bedford Forrest bust.

On Monday, while nearly 100 protestors shouted “tear it down” in front of the bust, the governor issued a statement that reiterated what he said two years ago: “I do not believe Nathan Bedford Forrest should be one of the individuals we honor at the Capitol” and “I strongly encourage the Capitol Commission and the Historical Commission to act.”

(Photo: WKRN)

When and how they “act” is unclear right now, but several Capitol Hill sources say they expect Governor Haslam to address the issue further this week.

This comes as Lt. Governor Randy McNally issued his own statement about the law passed by the General Assembly to deal with historic monuments statewide including the capitol.

The Lt. Governor said, “It is absolutely appropriate to periodically review the historical figures we choose to honor in the Capitol. Any such review should be driven by an appreciation of our state’s full historical narrative, not just current events. The process in place to move or replace any historic statue is clear and deliberate. We need to trust and follow that process.”

According to the law, an initial effort to request the removal of monuments or busts like Forrest’s would be made to the Tennessee Capitol Commission which oversees such things on the capitol grounds.

Its members include the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, and State Comptroller along with several lawmakers and private citizens.

If approved, the matter would be referred then to the Tennessee Historical Commission whose members include the governor, but its made up mainly of private citizens.

The commission’s next scheduled meeting is Oct. 13.

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