The Slatest

Tennessee Legislators Vote to Strike Funding for Memphis’ Bicentennial Celebration as Punishment for Removing Confederate Statues

Protesters stand around a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Demonstrators attend a rally protesting the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in front of a statue of the Confederate general on Aug. 13, 2005, in Memphis, Tennessee. Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

As punishment for the city’s decision to rid itself of two Confederate statues from its public parks, Tennessee House lawmakers voted on Tuesday to strike $250,000 in funding that had been set aside for the city of Memphis’ bicentennial celebration.

According to Nashville Public Radio, the state Legislature retaliated against the city for circumventing a state law protecting Confederate memorials. After being denied permission to remove the statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the city sold the parks to a nonprofit, which then took the statues down.

According to the Commercial Appeal, the legislator who sponsored the amendment, Rep. Steve McDaniel, said on the House floor that the amendment withholding the funding was a fair form of punishment. “If you recall, back in December, Memphis did something that removed historical markers in the city,” he said. “It was the city of Memphis that did this, and it was full knowing it was not the will of the legislature.” The amendment was approved with a 56–31 vote, over the objections of some lawmakers who called the amendment “hateful” and racist.