Earlier in the week, plaintiffs Hiram Patterson and the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans won a temporary victory to halt the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Park in Dallas.
City council members had voted 12-1 to remove the historical statue immediately, but U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater granted a temporary restraining order that postponed the statue’s removal.
The removal of the statue by Nov. 8 was decided in a rushed vote which occurred simultaneously with barricades being erected around the Lee Park statue; a crane was ready to pluck it off its pedestal as Dallas police watched.
In the wake of the recent Charlottesville, Virginia, protests, civil war statues have been seen as monuments of propaganda and danger, prompting the formation of a 20-person task force to advise Dallas officials on whether or not to remove Confederate iconography from the city. The 20 members were to meet for 90 days to find solutions, beginning on Aug. 31.
Residents, who are upset over the growing problems Dallas faces, such as infrastructure, are asking the city council to use taxpayer money to fix Dallas streets instead of knocking down the city’s statues.
Voicing concern, task force member Jo Trizila is worried “about the speed in which we are working.” She said the resolution gives appointees “33-days” versus the 90-days allowed by city charter. “I ask of you, today, to allow the task force to do what you asked of us to see this process through.”
Attending the meeting was Lee’s great-great grandson. He offered to purchase the statue from the city versus having it destroyed.
Dallas resident Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Allen West, the former Florida congressman who served on Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, also spoke at the meeting. “We don’t need to focus on statues. We need to focus on where we are going as a nation. But [for] any soldier you ask who walks on those bases, it’s not about the person it’s named for, it’s about the country that they serve.”
Councilman Rick Callahan does not believe the public is informed about what is being done and asked his peers to defer the vote until Nov. 15. He believes they need “to allow the people to decide the outcome.”
Others spoke up with the opinion to remove the Confederate monuments. Among them, one man asserted that ridding the city of the statues is not “erasing” history. He explained that keeping the statues romanticizes history.
Another speaker said he wanted the future to not be “bound by the delusion of white supremacy.” Racial-healing pastor Michael Waters likened extracting Confederate statues to “removing this legacy of white supremacy from our city.”
Reverend Jeff Hood gave his two cents in what sounded like a poem: “Racism is not right, for God is not white. Take these damn things out tonight.”
It is important to note, in a poll by NBC DFW, asking viewers if they thought Dallas should remove the statue of Lee, 77% of respondents voted “no” and only 23 percent voted “yes.”
Is a quick turn of events, the temporary restraining order granted late Wednesday has been dissolved. Despite the wishes of Dallas residents, it was determined on Thursday afternoon that the Robert E. Lee statue will come down.
U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Fitzwater has now ruled the plaintiffs’ argument failed to demonstrate that it would likely succeed if the case were to proceed further, which is required in order to keep a temporary restraining order, or TRO, in place.
City council members have not provided a timeline as to when it will be removed.
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