Dallas council to hold public meeting on Confederate monuments

The Dallas City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to hear from the public about Confederate monuments and symbols throughout the city.

Several city council members said Monday they'd received an earful from constituents angry about the way the decision was made to bring the Robert E. Lee statue down. So this time, with decisions looming about other Confederate items, they decided not to take any votes before hearing more from the public.

It’s been more than a month since the city towed Robert E. Lee away to a storage facility. Some critics still feel the city put the cart before the horse. But Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston defended the quick decision against what he called a celebration of white supremacy.

"This is not a question of whether Robert E. Lee was a good man. This is a question of what did those people mean when they put it up, and those people were Klan members,” Kingston said.

Joanne Turner said she is a member of the group that commissioned the statue, the Dallas Southern Memorial Association, and Kingston is wrong.

"The KKK were bandits, they wore sheets, they couldn't have raised money if they had to,” Turner said.

Turner says the monument was intended to honor those who died fighting in the war, people like her ancestors.

"If you lived in Texas, that's what everyone did,” Turner said.

Kingston said the meaning behind the statue couldn’t be ignored.

"The people who raised the money for this had associations with the Klan,” Kingston said.

In a near unanimous vote, the council opted to take down the statue. But now some feel the process may have been rushed and ignored a task force created by Mayor Mike Rawlings. The Lee monument vote happened before the first task force meeting.

"The vote was taken at 11 a.m. and the cranes were out there at 1 in the afternoon,” said task force member and architect Bryce Weigand.

Several council members now agree the city should have done a better job of involving the public.            

"I think a lot of the public already feels we already went too fast,” said councilman Omar Narvaez.

"Yes,” said councilwoman Sandy Greyson. “I got a lot of input from folks who felt we went too fast. "

The city's special meeting to hear from citizens about the task force's recommendations is Wednesday at 6 p.m. Then, the council is set to take a vote on the recommendations on Nov. 8.

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