Moments ago, I signed the ordinance that completed our sale of the parks. pic.twitter.com/LZH00Pa6cv
— Mayor Jim Strickland (@MayorMemphis) December 21, 2017
The city of Memphis sold two public parks containing Confederate monuments to a nonprofit Wednesday in a massive, months-in-the-planning operation to take the statues down overnight.
The City Council unanimously approved the sale of Health Science Park, home of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, and its easement on Fourth Bluff Park, home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, for $1,000 each to Memphis Greenspace Inc. Fourth Bluff, or Memphis Park, is owned by a group called The Overton Heirs.
The sale — which is almost certain to result in a lawsuit from statue supporters — allows Greenspace to legally do what the city of Memphis cannot: Remove the statues from their visible perches in the parks, Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen said. He said they would be stored in an undisclosed location for security reasons.
“Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park have been sold,” Mayor Jim Strickland said in a social media post soon after the vote. Operations on those sites tonight are being conducted by a private entity and are compliant with state law. We will have further updates later tonight.”
The nonprofit, which is led by Shelby County Commissioner and attorney Van Turner, brought in a crane to remove the Forrest statue first at around 6 p.m.
Greenspace signed a contract with Strickland on Friday that requires them to continue operating the park as a park, McMullen confirmed Wednesday. He said he knew of no plans for the nonprofit to sell the parks back to the city.
Here’s video of the removals: