The Austin City Council voted Thursday on a resolution that condemns displays of Confederate statues, artifacts, and memorabilia. In a three-page document, council members call Austin a “welcoming city to people of all backgrounds” where Confederate iconography is “harmful to the peace and tranquility of the city.”
The city’s 10-member city council swiftly approved the resolution without any discussion. Only one councilwoman, Ellen Troxclair, voted against it.
The resolution directs the city manager to submit a report within 90 days that identifies and develops costs and recommendations for the removal or renaming of Confederate monuments and memorials and other related artifacts located on city-owned properties.
#ATXCouncil has resolved to study options for removing or renaming Confederate monuments and memorials located on City-owned property.
— Austin Texas (@austintexasgov) October 5, 2017
The city council’s resolution asserts that “memorials and monuments of the Confederacy, far removed from Civil War battlefields, often have little to do with history but are public announcements of racial bigotry erected in the early- to mid-twentieth century during the Civil Rights Movement” and these commemorations “preserve the cause of white supremacy…”
It argues that “even after the slow and hard-won gains made from the Civil Rights Movement, Americans of African descent are still denied equality by a society that discriminates against them.” The resolution contends that monuments, streets, schools and other public places named for prominent members of the Confederacy continue as “glaring symbols of some’s refusal to allow full and equal participation in society by Americans of African ancestry.”
The document also calls it “deeply unjust to require Americans of African descent” to have support the city’s maintenance of “hateful symbols” with their tax dollars.
Ultimately, the resolution charges the city manager to report back within three months able to identify all city-owned land, streets and buildings with a Confederate connection plus produce a cost analysis for the removal, replacement, preservation, storage, maintenance, or renaming of any related items.
The Austin City Council resolution echoes Dallas. In mid-August, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings appointed a 20-person task force to advise city officials on whether or not to remove Confederate monuments in response to the recent Charlottesville, Virginia, protest violence. He charged them with meeting for 90 days to find solutions and then report their findings.
Within days, though, that game plan changed. Rawlings fast-tracked the process and a sudden August 28 city council resolution demanded the city immediately remove, dispose, or relocate all Confederate statues located on Dallas public land, folding in parks and streets with any ties to the Old South. The resolution called for a vote on September 6 and downgraded the task force’s role. In the end, council members approved the removal of an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee with little input from taxpayers.
This summer, the flagship Austin campus of the University of Texas removed four Confederate statues, including one of General Robert E. Lee, in the middle of the night. Two years ago, UT officials downed a historical bronze sculpture of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis following the tragic church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina. The statue resurfaced this year as part of an educational exhibit on the American South at the Briscoe Center housed on the university’s grounds.
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