In the wake of the violent Charlottesville rally that left one dead, and multiple others injured, the Univerity of Texas at Austin has made the immediate decision to remove four statues of individuals with Confederate ties from the campus’ South Mall.
Bronze statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan will be relocated to the university’s Briscoe Center for American History, while the likeness of James Stephen Hogg, Texas’ first native-born governor and the son of a Confederate general, will be re-installation at another campus site, said university President Gregory L. Fenves
“The horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” Fenves said in a statement issued to the university community. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
According to University of Texas spokesman Gary Susswein, the removals were carried out abruptly in the middle of the night and without any advanced notifcation to the general public for regard of public safety, likely to avoid the presence of those protesting the removals and counter-protestors.
— Mary Huber (@marymhuber) August 21, 2017
“The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” Fenves further explained. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”
It was two years ago that Fenves made a similar move, removing the statue of President Jefferson Davis from the Main Mall and relocating it in the campus’ Briscoe center.
The statues of Lee, Johnston, Reagon, and Hogg were initially left untouched because of their deeper significance in the state of Texas, but following the Charlottesville attack and subsequent counter-protests that have taken place throughout the country, he’s decided to take a stand.
“The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history,” he added. “But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”
It was last week that a “Unite The Right” white nationalist rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue in the city’s Emancipation Park.
This group, however, was met with a swarm of counterprotestors, leading to violent clashes all day and an eventual state of emergency was declared by Virginia governor Terry Macauliffe.
Things took a deadly turn when James A. Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counterprotestors and killed 32-year old Heather Heyer and injured at least 19 others.
Currently, Fields is facing various felony charges that include murder in the 2nd degree.