Group offers reward in Forrest theft
Head is missing from Confederate monument
Mar. 27, 2012
SELMA — Supporters of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest posted a $20,000 reward Tuesday for information linked to the theft of a bust honoring the controversial military commander who became one of the first leaders of the Ku Klux Klan.
The bronze bust, which cost $9,000 and sat atop a granite monument valued at much more than that, was discovered missing March 12 at the Confederate Circle at Live Oak Cemetery.
Raised by “Friends of Forrest,” an organization that has honored his memory for years, the reward will be given for details about the theft followed by an arrest and conviction of the guilty party or parties.
Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson said Tuesday afternoon that he was unaware of any reward quite as high for a property crime in his five-county region.
Benjamin Austin, a spokesman for the group offering the reward, called on “all persons to stand against any attacks on our common history, its monuments or memorials.”
Noting that Alabama has residents with varying degrees of family “history and heritage,” Austin said, “all history must be preserved and protected for future generations.”
Austin said the reward by his group would be in addition to any other monetary offer by CrimeStoppers, a local anti-crime organization.
The reward was privately funded by the Alabama Division and International Headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and private individuals, Austin said.
He said the monument was made possible by financial assistance from those “who recognized the appropriateness of honoring Confederate Gen. Forrest for his defense of the city of Selma.”
Forrest commanded an outmanned unit made up primarily of old men and boys when Union troops rode into Selma on April 2, 1865. The battle lasted only a few hours before Confederate troops surrendered and Forrest slipped out of town and avoided capture.
“Until this incident, the monument has remained unmolested since it was moved to the cemetery in 2001,” said Austin.
The monument, produced by a sculptor from Maine, has been a source of controversy from the day it was unveiled outside the Smitherman Historic Building, where it remained until it was moved to the cemetery.
Black residents led by Selma lawyer Faya Rose Toure peppered the monument with garbage and other items. At one point, they tossed a rope over the bust and unsuccessfully tried to pull it off its pedestal.
James Perkins Jr., who became Selma’s first black mayor in 2000, ordered the monument moved from where it initially was located to Confederate Circle about two miles away.
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