A special called meeting of Rome’s Community Development Committee has been moved to the Rome City Auditorium on Friday at 10 a.m. to discuss the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest at the base of Myrtle Hill.
People can watch the meeting on the city's Facebook page live at 10 a.m.
Two people petitioned the City Commission during its regular meeting on Monday to have the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest — a controversial figure who was a general in the Confederate army — removed from the plaza at the base of Myrtle Hill Cemetery on the way into South Rome.
One of the petitioners, Wes Walraven, said that he’d heard two arguments over the years for keeping the statue. One was to remember the heritage of this area and the other was that people should learn from history.
“As an American, I don’t consider General Nathan Bedford Forrest as part of my heritage,” Walraven told commissioners. “He is a part of the heritage of the Confederate States of America, an illegitimate treasonous government that lasted five years in the history of this great nation.”
He compared the placement of the statue to post-war Germany erecting a statue to a Nazi general on the outskirts of a Jewish neighborhood.
A petition on Change.org authored by Abby Sklar, who also spoke on Monday, had over 3,000 signatures in support of removing the statue as of Tuesday evening.
“It is past time that this statue is moved to a battleground memorial where it belongs,” Walraven told commissioners. “It has no business anymore on public land at the entrance to a historically predominantly black neighborhood.”
He asked commissioners to consider preparing the necessary request to have the statue moved. Georgia has laws concerning the removal of statues and last year Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that made it even more difficult to relocate the monuments.
Many statues of Confederate generals or memorials were placed during two periods of history. One was from 1900 to the 1920s, during the Jim Crow era, and the other was from 1956 to 1965, during the civil rights movement.
Two monuments, including the statue of Forrest, were placed on Broad Street in 1908 and 1910.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy sponsored the statue of Forrest, who was hailed as “the savior of Rome” because his troops drove off Union raiders in 1863. And the Sons of Confederate Veterans raised funds to celebrate the sacrifices made by local women during the Civil War.
The monuments stood in the middle of Broad Street until calls to remove them started in 1949. They were then moved to Myrtle Hill Cemetery in 1952. The overt reason to move the statues off Broad Street was cited as traffic.
Forrest is accused of calling for the massacre of approximately 300 black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow in Tennessee during the Civil War and is credited as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.