The Dallas City Council will introduce a resolution next week that may well seal the fates of its Confederate monuments. It calls for the “demolition and removal” of a 122-year-old historical Confederate War Memorial. It also seeks to auction off the bronze equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, shuttered in a hangar since city officials removed it in September.
This reflects a marked shift from recommendations made to city council members and Mayor Mike Rawlings in a March 21 briefing meeting. Cultural Affairs Director Jennifer Scripps, City Manager T.C. Broadnax, and others proposed they leave the Confederate War Memorial in place and add historical context around the 60-foot tall monument rather than pay an estimated $430,000 to remove it. Dedicated in 1896, this downtown Dallas Civil War monument sits in Pioneer Park Cemetery, adjacent to City Hall and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
City staff also proposed placing the Lee statue on “long-term loan” at the Texas Civil War Museum in White Settlement, west of Fort Worth. Currently, the bronze likeness of the general and a Confederate soldier remains warehoused in a city-owned storage facility since Dallas officials took it down last year.
However, this new resolution, unveiled in agenda item #34 for the April 25 Dallas City Council meeting, advances a plan to tear down the Confederate War Memorial. It directs Broadnax “to obtain a Certificate of Demolition from the Landmark Commission” and authorizes him to “transfer funds or appropriate funds from excess revenue or contingency funds, as necessary, to remove” the monument. The city council has the eight votes it needs to demolish the landmark, according to KDFW.
The resolution also tasks Broadnax with using these funds to extract the plinth and seating area that remain at the former site of the Lee statue. It charges him with procuring “a fine auction house” to sell the Lee statuary crafted by New York sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor. In 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the sculpture as part of the Texas Centennial. The city says this artifact holds an appraised value of $950,000.
Breitbart Texas reached out to city officials regarding this latest resolution. On Thursday, the City of Dallas responded by email, saying, “The resolution was drafted based in part on City Council discussion at the March 21, 2018, briefing on this subject. City staff in the Office of Cultural Affairs, City Manager’s Office and City Attorney’s Office jointly drafted the resolution. The City Council will make the final policy decisions and may choose alternative options.”
The City of Dallas said it was unable to provide a copy of the actual written resolution that Breitbart Texas asked for in an open records request because “the item has not been considered before City Council; therefore, no records exist.”
The mad dash by Dallas officials to erase all images, historical figures, and symbols associated with the city’s Civil War history started days after violence broke out at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest in August 2017. At the time, Rawlings expressed his disdain for the city’s Confederate past, calling the statues “dangerous totems” and “monuments of propaganda.” He formed a 20-person appointed task force instructed to meet over 90 days and advise city officials on whether or not to remove these graven images. Before the task force ever met, the mayor truncated their timeline noticeably. Then, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway pushed through a sudden resolution that demanded the city remove all Confederate iconography and rename streets. It also diminished the task force’s role. A restraining order only temporarily halted the removal of the Lee statue.
Last September, Breitbart Texas reported NBCDFW polled viewers on their thoughts about the city removing the Lee statue. Seventy-seven percent of respondents voted against taking it down. Only 23 percent agreed.
This latest resolution also addresses other recommendations made by city staff in March. It includes renaming the Confederate cemetery, adding a historical marker to the downtown site where an African-American man, Allen Brooks, was lynched in 1910, and restoring murals in the Hall of Negro Life at Fair Park. Lee Parkway, which is located alongside the former site of the statue named for the Confederate general, was the only Dallas street they recommended renaming.
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