A kooky-looking Confederate statue that has stirred up controversy and made headlines with its cartoonish features was vandalized sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but the owner says he doesn’t plan on restoring the monument to its original state.
The statue depicts Nathan Bedford Forrest — a Confederate general and early leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Even among Confederate heroes, Forrest is one of the nastier lot; after a group of Union soldiers surrendered, Forrest’s men massacred the black soldiers in the regimen. The statue stands on private property, owned by Bill Dorris, but Forrest and his steed are clearly visible on the nearby interstate 65. There’s also a bust of the bygone soldier in the Tennessee state house.
After a group of unknown vandals brought spray paint and coated the deceased general in a bright pink, Dorris seemed a bit pleased by the makeover, telling the Tennessean “[the pink] will show up real good.” He added “They’ve been trying to figure out how to cover it up. I do think they chose a real good color.”
This isn’t the first time that Dorris’ statue has been the butt of a joke — the monument has been shot six times and once, somebody planted a sign reading “Trump 2016: Make Amerikkka Great Again” at the horse’s feet. All that mischief has led to the Tennessee native erecting a series of cameras on his property, but he hasn’t yet looked at the footage from the most recent bout of graffiti.
Elected officials have constantly tried to devise a plan to keep the 25-foot statue out of the windshield-view of passing motorists but have been thwarted at each turn. At one point, the Nashville Metro Council approved of a plan to grow bushes and trees in front of Forrest, but the Tennessee Department of Transportation shot that idea down. A few weeks ago, the city of Memphis managed to rid themselves of one Nathan Bedford Forrest statue when they sold a public park to a private entity and the Confederate soldier on the grounds was immediately removed.
In 2015, The Washington Post ran an entire piece on Dorris’ monument, which is usually flanked by Confederate flags. The statue was raised in 1998 and at the hands of an attorney, not a sculptor — though you probably guessed that after glancing at Forrest’s bizarre features. The artist, Jack Kershaw is mainly known for defending the man who shot Martin Luther King Jr. and once telling a New Orleans newspaper “somebody needs to say a good word for slavery.”
During an interview with Nashville Public Radio, Dorris insisted that he’s not racist but defended his statue and compared it to other monuments, saying “Let’s take the Washington monument down, or at least let’s paint it black. Let’s burn Mount Vernon down … When you get through with it, you ain’t changed nothing. You haven’t cleansed anything.”