The Dallas city council, on a near-unanimous vote, passed a resolution to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee in one of the city’s parks. The proposal was part of a larger initiative against Confederate symbols and names in the city.
The cost to remove that statue was estimated at about $500,000, according to local CBS affiliate. The city planned on taking it down on Wednesday, but a plaintiff filed in federal court over the issue, and the court granted a temporary restraining order, CBS Dallas-Forth Worth is reporting.
The plaintiff, Hiram Patterson, is a Dallas resident and a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. His attorney, Kirk Lyons, filed the petition just in time before the city actually removed the statue of Lee. Lyons is a North Carolina-based attorney, who has been deemed a “white supremacist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to the Dallas News.
That notwithstanding the fact that they will not declare Antifa a hate group, so that reveals their true priorities.
Lyons told local station KRLD-AM, “We believe there’s a federal first amendment question that gives us federal jurisdiction. We filed a temporary restraining order and Judge Fitzwater signed it at 3:34 p.m. today and an hour later we served it on the minions of the city who were trying to take Lee down and apparently we stopped it at the last second.”
Patterson filed this complaint on September 6:
In the complaint, Patterson claims that “The Confederate Monument was erected to express a controversial political opinion. The City’s plan to remove the Monument in a matter of hours is an imminent and unconstitutional attempt to curtail free speech by ordaining what mute political symbols must mean. The City’s planned suppression of the Monuments’ political speech is a first step in a totalitarian move to determine authorized forms of political communication and to punish unauthorized political speech. The City has expressed no compelling interest in the abridgment of this core political speech.”
Those who were gathered at the site while work teams began to take-down process were generally not vocally to its removal.
“It was not put up to glorify Robert E. Lee. It was put up to demoralize and insult black people,” one woman said.
There are plenty who want to save the statue though, including former state representative Will Harnett.
“It’s a very valuable statue. This is history we’re talking about saving. Also, I’m a Dallas taxpayer, and I’m not excited about $1.2 million plus being burned to move these statues.”
“It’s just something that belongs here. It’s just amazing that we can just dismiss it,” another woman chimed. “And that’s none of the city’s business to have that opinion. They’re politicians. They don’t get that kind of free speech.”
Another group, Dallas Citizens For Unity and Reconciliation, desires that the park simply be renamed, and the statue of Lee left alone. However, they emphasized the value of providing a plaque that contextualizes who Lee was and what he fought for.
Lee personally fought for his home and for Virginia, but the only way to do that was by fighting for the side that wanted to keep the repugnant institution of slavery. Lee was a noble gentleman who was admired in both the North and the South after the war, and it was his post-war leadership that paved the path of reconciliation; we still travel along that road today.