David Fizdale Calls for Memphis Confederate Statues' Removal, Rips Donald Trump

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2017

MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 27:  Head coach David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies speaks to the media prior to Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals game against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 27, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale was unequivocal in his desire to see the city of Memphis remove statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis.

Fizdale discussed his beliefs with Wendi C. Thomas of MLK50: Justice through Journalism (h/t the Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins):

"Take 'em down, I don't know what the hesitation is, I don't know what we're waiting on. Whatever gets those things down immediately, we got to do it. It splits people apart. It creates a public safety hazard having that thing in our city. The fact that Dr. King was killed here 50 years ago, and that the Civil Rights Museum sits here in our city, and for that to be out in the open, hanging out, where kids go, where families go, I don't want that in our city any more."

MLK50 Memphis shared a video of Fizdale's comments:

Fizdale also criticized President Donald Trump for equating counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, to the white nationalist organizers of the Unite the Right rally over the weekend.

Regarding Trump, Fizdale said he's "not waiting on the president to lead us."

"I've never waited on him to lead us," he said. "We've been active in Memphis from the beginning, we've said it from the beginning, we're going to amp it up even more and take care of our city from the people who live in this city and take care of the country from the citizens that live in this country."

Last Friday, white nationalists arrived in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue dedicated to Robert E. Lee. On Saturday, counter-protestors arrived, and 19 people were injured during demonstrations between the two groups, according to CNN's Jason Hanna, Kaylee Hartung, Devon M. Sayers and Steve Almasy. Heather Heyer died when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protestors.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James tweeted Tuesday that Trump has made hate "fashionable again":

James discussed his thoughts on Trump and Charlottesville further at an event for his foundation Tuesday in Sandusky, Ohio, per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:

Many were critical of Trump for failing to specifically condemn white nationalists in the immediate aftermath of the Charlottesville demonstrations.

Critics took issue with Trump again Tuesday when he said, "You got a lot of bad people in the other group, too," referencing the counter-protestors, per CNN's official Twitter account.