Where Do Confederate Monuments Go After They Come Down?

As the first anniversary of the Charlottesville protest nears, cities like Memphis are wrestling with what to do with the controversial statues once they've been taken down.
Protesters attempt to cover a statue of Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest at Health Sciences Park in Memphis, Tenn., in August 2017. The statue was removed in December. Source: Andrea Morales

Van Turner has a secret: He knows the whereabouts of the controversial Confederate statues removed last year from two parks in Memphis, Tenn.

"They have to be kept in a secretive location," said Turner on a recent afternoon, standing in a park overlooking the Mississippi River where one of the statues — of Confederate President Jefferson Davis — once stood. "For fear of someone trying to go in and get them."

Turner, a Shelby County commissioner, has been hiding the Jefferson Davis statue since it came down in December, along with a statue of Confederate Gen. and slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest and a bust of Confederate Capt. Harvey Mathes.

They're among the more than 45 Confederate monuments that in at least 27 cities across the country since last summer, when white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Va., to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In the aftermath, counterprotester Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed. The violence amplified calls for the removal of such monuments and spurred an ongoing debate over whether tributes to the Confederacy have a

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