Sheila Burke, Associated Press, April 18, 2018
The Republican-dominated House in Tennessee voted Tuesday to punish the city of Memphis for removing Confederate monuments by taking $250,000 away from the city that would have been used for a bicentennial celebration next year.
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.
Last year the city of Memphis, which is majority black, was able to find a legal loophole to get rid of two Confederate statues and a bust by selling city parks to a non-profit, which swiftly removed the monuments. Taken away under cover of darkness were statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a general in the confederacy, a slave owner and a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. A bust of a Confederate soldier was also removed.
A Republican lawmaker from Chattanooga who grew up in Memphis told fellow lawmakers that he loved the city but this was about obeying at least the spirit of a law to protect historical monuments.
The amendment that stripped the money away from Memphis was sponsored by Matthew Hill, a Republican from Jonesborough.
Another Republican lawmaker said removing the monuments was erasing history, he said “that’s what ISIS does” and it was a bad action that deserved punishment.
“Today is a demonstration that bad actions have bad consequences, and my only regret about this is it’s not in the tune of millions of dollars,” Rep. Andy Holt, of Dresden, said of the punishment.
The amendment passed along with the $37.5 million budget.