City shells out $52K over Forrest lawsuit

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

Dr. Cecil Williamson says it’s a lot of money &045;&045; money that he believes could be better spent elsewhere.

Williamson, who is the chairman of The Friends of Forrest Monument Committee, said he was surprised to learn that the City of Selma recently approved the payment of $52,395 in legal fees to the law firm of Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Wilson for representing the City of Selma in litigation against The Friends of Forrest.

Two years ago, The Friends of Forrest Committee attempted to place a monument of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on the grounds of the Smitherman Building.

Williamson said the idea for placing the monument at the building was first brought to the attention of former Selma Mayor Joe Smitherman, who gave his approval for the project. Williamson said the project was unanimously approved by the Smitherman Building board of trustees at that time.

Williamson said the purpose of placing the monument at the building was to recognize Forrest’s military career only.

The monument was placed on the grounds of the building, but was then later removed after the Selma City Council voted to have it removed during the first year of Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s administration.

The vote to remove the monument followed a series of protests over Forrest’s ties to the Klu Klux Klan. Some of the protests were led by Selma Attorney and activist Faya El Toure, formerly known as Rose Sanders.

The monument was damaged during one of the protests while on Smitherman Building grounds.

The monument was then removed from the grounds at the Smitherman Building and placed at the Old Live Oak Cemetery, where it presently stands.

The Friends of Forrest has sued the City of Selma for the removal of the monument from Smitherman Building grounds, claiming that the City of Selma breached its contract with The Friends of Forrest.

Council members, who were asked to comment on the lawsuit, said they could not comment at the present time since the matter is presently under litigation.

Williamson said he predicted that the lawsuit could end up costing the city up to $150,000, which, he added, &uot;would be very expensive for the city.&uot;