Friends of Forrest make right decision

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In Tuesday’s Times-Journal, we were able to share some good news to the community regarding the city of Selma and the Friends of Forrest lawsuit. As reported, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently notified the City of Selma that an appeal filed by the Friends of Forrest had been dismissed due to want of prosecution.

U.S. Senior District Judge Brevard Hand dismissed one federal claim and three state claims against the city on Aug. 7. The federal claim dealt with allegations that Selma discriminated against the Friends of Forrest, the organization that had the Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest monument installed at the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum, and that the city failed to prosecute alleged monument vandals.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. stated that he felt justified and cleared by the ruling. This battle over the monument and its whereabouts had been ongoing for more than three years. There has been substantial taxpayer dollars that have been put forth to pay the legal fees for the city in this case. People who did not even have a voice or opinion in the monument were being forced to pay for something that they did not believe in. There were others, however, that did feel that the monument and what it stands for should be in a visible place such as the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum.

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Bennie Austin and other members of the Friends of Forrest organization have decided to let this matter rest. The Times-Journal quoted Austin as saying, &uot;It was in the best interest of the city and all parties involved and that we are just letting the matter be dropped.&uot;

Austin went on to say that the group’s intentions were to put a historical monument in a relevant site, have a ceremony and go home. It was not to defend its actions three years after the fact.

Austin and the Friends of Forrest have made a good decision that will benefit them in addition to the taxpayers of Selma.

It has been said that sometimes the best actions are those not taken. This is an example of that. Now that the matter of the Forrest monument is behind us, we need to look at the positives of the community and how we can share those with each other and those that continue to look at Selma through a microscope.