Owner Of I-65 Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue Defiant Over Calls To Block View | Nashville Public Radio

Owner Of I-65 Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue Defiant Over Calls To Block View

Jun 23, 2015

The owner of Nashville’s roadside monument to Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest is unmoved by calls to block the view from I-65. The site south of downtown has attracted attention following the Charleston church shootings and the subsequent debate over flying Confederate flags.

City officials are asking the state’s highway department to plant trees and shrubs in front of his statue and flagpoles, which each fly the Confederate flag. Businessman Bill Dorris, who owns the site, said there’s no wall high enough.

“I’ve got some 1,800-foot flagpoles. I could put them up starting tomorrow," he told WPLN. "They’re going to have to build a helluva wall and a helluva bunch of trees to block all that."

Dorris says he’s not racist, though he also calls slavery a form of “social security” for African Americans.

Dorris says he’s as mad as anybody about the South Carolina shooting.

“They don’t need a trial down there. This is one time it’d be a good time to just hang the bastard and be done with it.”

But he considers it unfair to use a single act of violence to attack symbols perceived as racist. Before targeting his monument, Dorris contends something should be done about all the U.S. presidents who owned slaves.

“Let’s take the Washington monument down, or at least let’s paint it black," Dorris says. "Let’s burn Mount Vernon down. Let’s come over here to the Hermitage and burn the Hermitage down. When you get through with it, you ain’t changed nothing. You haven’t cleansed anything."

Dorris’ monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, has endured regular sabotage attempts. Dorris says he worries there might be more in the coming days.