Dallas considers sending Robert E. Lee statue to museum

- The debate over Confederate monuments is back on the table in Dallas.

City council members on Wednesday heard recommendations about the fate of the Robert E. Lee monument that was removed from a city park earlier this year.

“We cannot forget what has happened,” said Mayor Mike Rawlings. “We have to face up to our history in the city of Dallas and deal with it.”

Controversy and outcry over monuments in parks, as well as streets named after Confederate symbols, prompted Dallas to take action. The Robert E. Lee statue was put in storage in September.

Since then, a city task force has been looking at options for the monument. On Wednesday, it recommended that the statue be moved to the Texas Civil War Museum in White Settlement.

“First of all, Robert is going west somewhere,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway. “He's not coming back over here. Let's be real clear.”

The task force also recommended that the city should add historical context to other monuments, remove the Confederate cemetery monuments, rename Confederate streets within 90 days and apologize for the policies that furthered segregation and racism in the city.

Most of the recommendations come at a cost with taxpayers footing the bill. It would cost an estimated $75,000 to move the Lee statue and place it on a new foundation, plus another $125,000 to remove the existing base and steps. There is also still a time capsule in the base.

Critics point out the Confederate monument in Pioneer Park could prove even more costly.

“The removal is easily going to cost into the millions,” said Dallas resident Chris Carter. “Mr. Mayor, the fact of the matter is it is impossible to accurately project the cost of removing the Confederate monument.”

“We can take the inscriptions off over there, remove the Confederate people, do the smoothing of the stones and take all the verbiage out from over there,” Caraway said.

Many of the city council members support removing Dallas’ remaining Confederate monuments.

Councilman Philip Kingston called them “objects of shame.” However, Councilman Rick Callahan said they should be left alone.

“Just leave them alone. Just leave them alone,” said Dallas City Councilmember Rickey Callahan. “Why keep fighting this war? Why keep re-opening the wounds and just contextualize the statues and move on.”

The council also got recommendations to rename Lee Parkway and to add a marker to memorialize a shocking chapter in Dallas history: the 1910 lynching of Allen Brooks.

Though there's no deadline on when the issues might come to a final vote, city leaders say they're committed to making a final decision this year.

“I'm always open for compromise,” Caraway said. “But at the end of the day, the final vote will be what is right for us to do.”

The council didn’t make any decision on the recommendations during Wednesday’s meeting. The City council will take the information from the discussion and form a resolution to bring to the table for a vote.

Caraway says he expects we could see an action item within the next 30 days on the issues.

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