- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that he supports removing the bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Capitol, as well as Confederate flags from state license plates.

The Republican governor told reporters on Tuesday that if he’s picking which Tennesseans to honor, “that would not be one of the Tennesseans I would honor.”

Haslam said he also supports removing the Confederate flag from license plates and specialty plates in Tennessee, something he acknowledged would require a change in state law.

“We only honor a limited number of Tennesseans in there,” Haslam said. “Forrest would not be my choice of one of the Tennesseans that we honor. So I’ll be real clear about that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said he’s open to discussing the issue, but he said people should be aware that Forrest “recanted and changed his position on a lot of those issues for which he’s criticized.”

“I think they may learn some things about the individual that aren’t generally known,” said the Collierville Republican. “I’m not afraid to have the conversation.”

The comments from state and local lawmakers come days after nine parishioners were gunned down in a historic black church in South Carolina, prompting a debate over Confederate symbols.

A couple of Metro Nashville Council members are seeking to cover up a private statue of Forrest that sits along the Interstate 65 corridor.

The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/1Rr3fbw) reports Councilwoman Megan Barry, who is running for mayor, said in a statement that she wants to use private funds to purchase trees and brush to block views of the statue.

Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard, who advises mayoral candidate Bill Freeman, told the newspaper he is working on a resolution to ask the state to block visibility of the statue.

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