MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Battle lines being drawn over a monument at a controversial Memphis park dedicated to a Civil War general and KKK leader.
The granite stone naming Forrest Park in downtown Memphis is gone.
City officials removed it without warning this week, saying the sign never should have been there. But members of the group Sons of Confederate Veterans say they had permission to install it.
The 1,000 pound sign off Union Avenue was put in place last May. The two sides are at war over what happens next.
Forrest Park is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, former Memphian, Civil War general and first grand wizard of the KKK.
While there may be mixed opinions over the park's name, city officials say removing the sign had nothing to do with history.
"My issue is one of fairness and consistency," says Memphis' chief administrative officer George Little. He stands by the decision, saying the city never approved the install.
"It was certainly authorized to be placed here," says Lee Millar with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Millar has a letter from Memphis' former parks director. "The authorization from city is there."
"That's not an approval letter," Little disagrees.
The marker cost around $10,000. "Various historical groups in the community raised the money." Millar says they wanted to better designate the more than 100 year old park where Forrest is buried.
"General Forrest lived here. He was a city alderman for two terms in Memphis. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places."
Forrest is a controversial figure in the South's past. The city says taking down the sign had nothing to do with history.
"This is not about that nor am I trying to get into any historical controversies," Little tells abc24.com. He adds there are design reviews and guidelines that must be followed. Without the documentation proving the statue was authorized, the two sides are at an impasse.
"I hope they'll put it back where it should be," Millar says.
'I need to see an agreement," says Little. "I need to see an approval. I need to see that there was a process followed and I have yet to see that."
The marker is in city storage. Little says they'll be happy to return it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
To prevent future confusion with other parks, he says Memphis may need to re-evaluate guidelines and come up with a more specific process.