Controversial park discussed during council meeting - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Controversial park discussed during council meeting

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Sparks flew during a heated Memphis City Council debate over adding the name of a civil rights leader to a park named after a Confederate general.

The meeting began as a discussion to add Ida B. Wells' name to Nathan Bedford Forrest Park and it quickly turned into an explosive war of words.

As Memphis Councilman Bill Boyd began this Tuesday meeting describing Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest as a man who helped African-Americans, Councilwoman Janis Fullilove made faces in disbelief.

She could barely sit still as Boyd continued his characterization of Forrest.

Fullilove flailed her hand, as if she was blocking his words and then made a motion, but Boyd let Lee Millar of the Sons of Confederate Veterans speak.

The conversation turned to a recent battle over a Forrest Park marker the city removed.

Millar showed a letter signed by former Parks Director Cindy Buchanan approving the marker.

As Millar protested the removal of the marker, Fullilove applauded its removal.

Memphis City Deputy CAO Maura Sullivan then told Millar the sign was not approved by the city - end of discussion.

Millar said Forrest was not the founder of the KKK, and described the early organization as a social club and neighborhood watch.

"What I read was the man was a great general and great business man in this city," said Boyd.

Councilman Myron Lowery put the item on the agenda.

Fullilove left the meeting before it came to a close.

The council voted to delay the item two weeks.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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