Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced Tuesday that an appointed task force and independent advisors will arbitrate the fate of Confederate monuments on the city’s public land, a dilemma sparked by the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.
“It’s easy to say ‘tear them down’ because it’s frankly politically correct and in many ways it makes us all feel good,” said Rawlings in a press conference. He said he hesitated to handle the situation this way because Dallas is better and stronger when it is “united and not divided,” alluding to Dallasites’ differencing viewpoints in this debate.
Rawlings called the Confederate statues “dangerous totems” and “monuments of propaganda.” He told reporters he believes the city’s historical monuments symbolize “racial injustices” of the past. “We can never ignore the fact that race and our racial injustices of the past continue to haunt us and the institutional racism we see economically every day keeps us from the goal that we have as a city.”
The mayor said the members of the Dallas City Council will appoint a task force that will meet for 90 days to seek solutions and present an evaluation report to the board of the Office of Cultural Affairs. This city council department will review the task force’s findings, report back to the city council, call for public comments, and get recommendations from the Quality of Life Committee before city officials reach a final decision on the monuments’ fates.
Rawlings invited two outside organizations to serve in advisory capacities for the task force. One, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), described by the mayor as a “racial healing and transformation” group is actually part of a $24 million, 14 city initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the nonprofit arm of breakfast cereal giant Kellogg. The foundation has financial ties to divisive far left groups, as reported by Breitbart News. In 2016, the it contributed nearly $1 million to support the controversial work of the Black Lives Matter organization.
The mayor also recruited the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance. He called them “experts that understand hatred, bigotry, and how societies have worked through this.”
“We know about this bigotry and hatred all too well in Dallas,” Rawlings said. “A place that for so long was a bastion of the Klu Klux Klan and was dubbed the City of Hate. A place where just 13 months ago, a madman came here to kill certain cops just because they were white.”
On July 7, 2016, lone gunman Micah X. Johnson ambushed Dallas police, killing five officers at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Rawlings noted the Dallas Police Department (DPD) accommodates lawful and peaceful protests. He signaled clearly where the city stands on police and public safety. “We will not tolerate violence in our city of any kind.”
Rawlings said DPD will take immediate enforcement action in such an event. “We will not have street brawls in our city and our police department is prepared to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
”The percolating battle over Confederate symbols, relics, and icons, began to brew locally in July when Michael Phillips, a history professor at Collin Community College, called for the removal of statues at the Dallas Confederate War Memorial. Erected over 100 years ago, the likenesses of Jefferson Davis, president of the short-lived Confederate States; Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee stand on the grounds. Another statue of Lee, dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936, resides on the nearby park grounds at Arlington Hall, a replica of one of Lee’s homes.
Conversely, a newly formed group opposes tearing down the historical reminders of the Confederacy, Breitbart Texas reported. They believe the monuments “tell an important story and help heal racial wounds.”
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.