Residents of Selma, Ala. are outraged that a memorial to Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general and initial Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, has been approved by the Selma City Coucil for re-installation and expansion in a public park.
The statue is meant to replace a bronze casting in his honor that disappeared from the park in March of this year, according to the New York Times.
The bust was installed in 2001 and has endured eleven years of vandalism from a community that saw the work as an emblem of bigotry and racism before it finally went missing.
Members of the Selma City Council have given permission to Friends of Forrest, an organization hell-bent on upholding the general’s legacy, to build a new statue atop a high pedestal with a fence to deter petty criminals.
More than 304,000 have signed their names to a petition that was begun on Change.org by Malika Fortier, of Grassroots Democracy, to stop the new statue from being installed.
“People know Selma, Alabama as the city where Dr. King fought for civil rights. Selma was the launching point for historical protests that hurdled the civil rights movement into the national spotlight,” said Fortier in her petition letter, which also expresses anger at city council members for giving permission to expand the memorial.
“The Selma city council has no business allowing the city’s history and the memory of those who fought for civil rights to be smeared in this way.”
The Friends of Forrest have offered a $20,000 reward for the old statue and say they will provide video surveillance of the new bust once construction for the new statue is given a green light. In spite of the city council’s action, Selma Mayor George Patrick has currently halted the statue’s construction.