Everything was set to take the Confederate statue at Lee Park down. Then chaos hit.
Will General Lee be knocked off his high horse in Dallas?
Lunch time visitors to Dallas' Lee Park were in for quite a surprise as Confederate statue drama took over.
Curious onlookers trickled into Lee Park on Wednesday afternoon amid hordes of Dallas Police officers and TV camera crews to watch the teardown of one of Dallas’ Confederate monuments.
Several hours earlier, the Dallas City Council voted 13-1 in favor of a resolution to take down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the park. The council authorized the city manager to take immediate action to remove the monument from the site and store it at a safe location until the mayor’s new Task Force on Confederate Monuments determines what to do with it.
Crowds were quick to arrive at Lee Park after the announcement was made. Dallasites of all ages and races gathered under the trees and on the sidewalk to view the slow and arduous removal of the statue.
And then, after hours of preparation, all action halted at 4:45 p.m. A federal court issued a temporary restraining order to stop the removal of the statue. The order states that there will be a hearing on Thursday at 1:30 p.m instead now to decide its fate.
Even if Lee is knocked off his high horse, the removal of the statue is only the beginning of Dallas’ efforts to take Confederate history off of a pedestal.
The resolution passed by City Council acknowledged “that public Confederate monuments and the names of public places, including parks and streets, named for Confederate figures do not promote a welcoming and inclusive city.” The current plans calls for Lee Park to be renamed to reflect this, along with other streets and parks with Confederate names in the Dallas city limits.
The towering Confederate War Memorial in Downtown Dallas’ Pioneer Park Cemetery would also be removed under the plan advocated (and voted into approval) by Dallas’ city leaders.
The Dallas City Council will meet on November 8 to make decisions about the renaming of parks and streets, as well as what will become of the war memorial and Dallas’ other Confederate monuments. The recent, disturbing events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Confederate monuments became the gathering place for violent white supremacists, likely had an effect in swaying city council’s decision.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings publicly condemned his city’s confederate statues as “monuments of propaganda,” at a recent press conference, though he initially proposed a slow process for their removal. Rawlings tells D Magazine that the violence in Charlottesville changed his point of view.
The court challenge issued on Wednesday will temporarily prevent the removal of the statue. Tomorrow’s hearing will determine what happens to the Confederate monument from here. The crowds surely will be back.