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Tennessee Highway Patrol Ignore Judge’s Order

August 5, 2018

Elizabeth Coker

8/2/2018

Source …..

An interesting drama unfolded Wednesday morning as frantic calls to the Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatch went unresponsive in an attempt to report a “crime in progress”.

Additional calls were placed by citizens all the way up the chain of command to  Tennessee’s top Trooper, Colonel Derrick Stewart’s office. Finally, a call to the THP’s Legal office in Nashville on Foster Avenue connected with Deputy Counsel Liz Hale and yielded a conversation about why a temporary restraining order issued by a  judge was not enforced by our top state law enforcement agency especially when state property was being destroyed.

At stake were five state historical markers, one of which was owned by the Tennessee Department of Tourism, four 1861 reproductions of civil war canon and a one hundred year old Sheild placed on the river bluff sometime after 1906, commemorating the Naval Battle of Memphis during the Civil War fought out by ironclads in the Mississippi river.

But never mind history, and Lord help us if a real life or death crisis occurred cause the slow response of the Highway Patrol almost seemed deliberately ineffective.

When Ms.Hale  finally called Captain Jimmy Johnson in the Jackson/Memphis station around 1:30 pm, he later confirmed she did not authorize him to  “do anything” to stop Memphis Greenspace, Inc. from illegally removing more history from a river park once known as Confederate Park, despite the fact that Hale had reviewed the judge’s order and found it to be in  force.

The TRO had been extended on July 19th by Chancery Court Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyles to cover all three Parks. All artifacts were supposed to be protected by the injunction in those parks which were involved in the controversial sale to Greenspace that went down last year under the cover of darkness resulting in the removal of  three statues. Family members of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Memphis Camp #215 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans claim the removal was illegal due to several laws which were broken.

A civil lawsuit is pending and the TRO was supposed to legally protect any further removal of statues, markers, sculptures, etc.. still in the Parks until all appeals are exhausted, according to court documents.

Litigants claim the statue of Forrest was the headstone of his grave, as he and Mrs. Forrest are still buried there in the cemetery where they have been for over 113 years.

The removal of Forrest’s statue is different from those Confederate Monuments in other cities  where such icons have been ripped down unceremoniously  in New Orleans, Louisville, and Richmond. The Plaintiffs claim it’s a desecration of a grave  to remove a headstone or any embellishment of a grave in an historic cemetery, and that makes this removal  a felony according to state cemetery law in Tennessee.

At least one member of Greenspace involved is already a convicted felon. Michael Hooks, Jr. was convicted and served time in prison for his role in the Tennessee Waltz scandal a few years ago. So he and others could see possible jail time if convicted for their role in this scandal.

Hale and her legal team may have obstructed justice if they deliberately ignored a judges order of protection.

The rubble was removed by a dump truck owned by Michael’s Tree and Loader Service on Knight-Arnold Road. The truck had no license plate as it drove off to unload, presumably at the City dump.

Off duty Memphis Police officers  in black swat uniforms and unmarked patrol cars were seen high fiving at least one Greenspace Board member, Luther Mercer, as  they surrounded Hispanic workers who stood and sat on the 1861 replica canon that was once perched over the river bluff park.

Workers quickly removed the rubble with bobcats, jackhammers and a construction claw-like crane while putting down black landscaping  mulch where the Jefferson Davis statue once stood. However, they worked so quickly witnesses said they were putting down the mulch at the same time they were removing debris and a lot of mulch got carried off to the dump with the concrete rubble.

The pedestal for the statue and a bronze marker were part of what was destroyed.

The marker was owned by a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Other items removed from the park on Saturday, July 28th were a sculpture of the Ten Commandments sponsored by the Memphis Doctors Association and a WWI monument erected by the Ladies Auxiliary of WWI Veterans.

Greenspace claimed in media reports  by Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal and  to reporter  Annette Peagler on Memphis Local 24 Tv that Memphis Greenspace  had received an email from the office of Governor Haslem to go ahead with the removal of these items, yet the spokesperson for the Governor denied those reports as false.

Text messages Paegler has in her possession reveal that Vann Johnson, President of the hastily organized non-profit, confirmed he made the statements with the understanding that Greenspace had the Governors full approval and a Press Release sent out by PR firm with  Haslem and Randy Boyd connections also made the same statement.

Abbie Gordon, a former Pilot Flying J video marketing manager, is now an account manager for the   PetSafe account, (Randy Boyd’s  invisible dog fence company) and currently works for Doug Carpenter & Associates along with Cara Greenstein of DNA, PR and Social Media, who  put out the press info AFTER the removals took place on Saturday.

As far as we know at this point, the historical markers owned by the Tennessee Historical Commission  were carted off in a  Uhaul trailer and the Department of Tourism  Civil War trails marker was tied to a nearby fence, with yellow Police tape around it. The large metal posts were piled in a heap.

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