A monument to a founding member of the white supremacist organization Ku Ku Klan (KKK) was vandalized by splashes of pink paint in Tennessee. The statue's owner said he has no plans to remove the new coat of color.
On the morning of Dec. 27, a privately-owned statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was found vandalized along a highway in Nashville, Tennessee.
"They've been trying to figure out how to cover it up," Bill Dorris, the location and statue's owner, told the Tennessean. "I do think they've chosen a real good color."
Forrest was a Confederate general during the Civil War and the inaugural grand wizard of the KKK. He is among the most controversial figures of the Confederacy whose image was enshrined across the U.S. during the 20th century.
Dorris said that he had utilized about a dozen security cameras on the scene and that he would review their footage to see if he can determine who defaced the statue with pink. The proprietor said that he would not take pains to refurbish the monument.
"Well, enjoy the new scheme is the only thing I can tell them," Dorris concluded.
The Forrest monument was erected on the plot of land beside the highway in 1998. The statue was sculpted by the late Jack Kershaw, who originally wanted the fixture in his backyard before Dorris offered up his more publicly-visible property. Kershaw was an attorney who previously represented James Earl Ray, the man convicted of murdering the Rev. Dr. Martin King Jr. in Memphis.
In June 2015, GOP Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee stated during a press conference that he disapproved of Dorris' statue but that he could not forcibly hide the fixture from tourists.
"It's not a statue that I like and that most Tennesseans are proud of in any way. ... I don't think the state has the right to just everything we don't like to plant shrubberies or trees to black that," Haslam said.
Dorris disclosed that his estate had been vandalized repeatedly over the years and "shot at six times."
The debate over enshrining Confederate leaders in public spaces spiked in June 2015, when Dylann Roof murdered nearly 10 parishioners in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof's manifesto included pictures of him posing with the Confederate flag and expressing hopes for a race war.
"Charleston was a fulcrum moment," Professor Alfred Brophy of the University of Alabama School of Law told FiveThirtyEight. "The steam with which monuments are coming down has accelerated greatly. There's more public discussion."
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimated that there were roughly 1,500 symbols memorializing the Confederacy across the nation. The majority of the monuments had been erected during the Jim Crow era in the early 20th century, when black Americans were segregated by state laws.
On Dec. 20, the Memphis City Council voted to sell off two local parks that contained statues honoring Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The non-profit that purchased the land promptly removed the statues, The New York Times reports.
Tami Sawyer, the leader of an advocacy group against Confederate monuments, told reporters that she was emotional when a crane removed Forrest's likeness from its perch.
"Just to finally get to this moment is overwhelming," Sawyer said. "I looked Nathan Bedford in the eyes and shed a tear for my ancestors."