NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The controversy over a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest continues, after an amendment that would block the statue on I-65 failed Wednesday.
State Representative Jason Powell said he is not giving up on blocking the statue near mile marker 76 from the public’s view.
“I find the statue is offensive, it’s hideous recently people have thrown paint on it and they’ve just totally let it go,” Powell explained.
He said the statue, that is still covered in pink paint after it was vandalized several years ago, is not only offensive but it’s a safety hazard.
“I’m sure there’s accidents that occur because people are looking at that so it’s a public safety issue.”
Powell said he drives past the statue that is on the edge of his district near mile marker 76 all the time and he hears the complaints.
“He is offensive to me and to a lot of members of my district and my community and most Tennesseans with his history in the civil war and his atrocities that he oversaw also being his involvement in the KKK,” stated Powell.
The State Rep. filed a tree planting appropriation to block the statue from the public’s view.
“Basically TDOT just needs to get out there and supervise it. I’ve already had people say they will donate the trees, we have volunteers who said they are willing to come out and plant. As long as TDOT will supervise it then we are talking mere dollars that’s being expended,” Powell explained.
It’s an idea that’s been discussed before. In 2015 TDOT “respectfully denied” the request, but Powell said times have changed.
He added that he believes blocking the statue will generate more money for the state in the long run, pointing to offended tourists who may not stop in Tennessee.
The property owner told News 2 that he no longer owns the statue and that it doesn’t bother him if they want to plant trees in front it.
The vote count was 66 to 29 in favor of tabling the amendment.