A statue of an early Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate general that long raised the ire of motorists along Interstate 65 in Tennessee was removed Tuesday morning from the private property where it had sat for decades.
The owner of the land where the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest stood died recently, NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville reported.
The man, Bill Dorris, left the property to the Battle of Nashville Trust, and the group had the statue removed.
The statue of Forrest “is ugly” and even he would think so, the trust said in a statement. Forrest “was not present at the Battle of Nashville,” and the property “has no historical significance,” it said.
Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell said the statue’s removal was “great news.”
“As Oak Hill Mayor I implored the state to allow vegetation to grow in front of it (they kept that particular stretch trimmed in a way that was inconsistent with the rest of the roadside),” she tweeted.
Dorris is said to have placed the statue alongside the highway to showcase the “area’s history,” WSMV reported.
As news of the statue’s removal spread online, social media users noted the peculiarly poor rendering of Forrest’s face, with his jaw hanging open.
“It’s a very strange looking statue at best. I’d like to know what the artist was thinking,” a Twitter user said.
Other monuments to Forrest have sparked controversy for decades. In July, a bust was moved from the Tennessee Capitol to a nearby museum after years of debate, one of a long stream of Confederate memorabilia and monuments that have fallen in recent years.
The roadside statue was vandalized with pink paint in 2017, which Dorris vowed to leave, according to the newspaper the Tennessean: “They’ve been trying to figure out how to cover it up,” he said. “I do think they’ve chosen a real good color.”
Tim Fitzsimons is a reporter for NBC News. he/him