NBF bust

Though a state board approved the removal in the state Capitol of a bust honoring enslaver and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, it remained on display as of last week, when the order allowed it to be removed.

The State Building Commission will meet July 22 and is expected to consider the matter.

Democrats are criticizing state leaders for not acting on the earlier removal order.

“If we cannot remove a memorial to an enslaver from our state Capitol, how can we begin to make progress on equitable school funding, fair policing and adequate healthcare for all people?” Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) said. “Removing this bust today does not usher in racial equality, but it shows progress can be made. And the work of justice will continue.”

 

Study committee continues refugee resettlement probe

Tennessee Republicans are continuing a probe of the refugee resettlement in the state as part of a GOP-only special legislative committee, which met again Tuesday.

Uproar among Tennessee Republicans began earlier this year when a Chattanooga television station aired footage of unaccompanied migrant children landing at an airport there. Though state leaders including Gov. Bill Lee and U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn expressed surprise and outrage that the operation was being conducted without their knowledge, fellow Republican state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, whose district includes the facility where the children were held, said he was aware of the operations and the other leaders should have been too. Additionally, officials in Lee’s administration had approved the facility to house children.

A staffer at the facility was later arrested on child abuse charges, and Republican Rep. Chris Todd accused the Biden administration of a coverup.

During the Tuesday meeting, Republican Rep. Ryan Williams accused the Biden administration of trafficking children. However, according to testimony, the facility was first approved to house children under the Trump administration.

The study committee did not make any decisions or recommendations but set a follow-up meeting for Aug. 12.

"We are dismayed at the smoke and mirrors show today by Tennessee’s lawmakers in regards to unaccompanied children seeking safety," Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Campaign and Advocacy Director Judith Clerjuene said. "The committee meeting was just a maneuver to score cheap partisan political points at the cost of putting the lives of vulnerable children at risk."

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