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Grey State, Blue City: Defending Local Control Against Confederate “Historical Preservation”

Posted by on Saturday, June 25, 2022 in Notes, Volume 24, Volume 24, Issue 4.

Sage Snider | 24 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 851 (2022)

Confederate monuments have become lightning rods across the American landscape. While these ubiquitous symbols have spread Lost Cause propaganda for over one hundred years, they have also instigated unprecedented protest and violence since the 2015 Charleston massacre, 2017 Charlottesville rally, and 2020 George Floyd murder. In response, southern state legislatures have passed preemptory “statue statutes,” laws that obstruct left-leaning cities from removing Confederate monuments. This Note compares the political and legal strategies cities and citizens have used to overcome these legal barriers, both in opposition to individual monuments and statue statutes themselves. Using Tennessee’s Historical Commission waiver process as a case study, this Note reveals how commission-based statue statutes act as objective façades disguising partisan bans on Confederate monument removal. Therefore, this Note urges that cities shift their energy from seeking waivers against individual monuments to publicly challenging historical commissions and statue statues so that citizens can regain legal pathways to peacefully and safely remove Confederate monuments.

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