Future of Dallas Confederate monuments remains unclear

A decision on what to do with Dallas Confederate monuments and symbols was pushed back indefinitely.

The Dallas City Council was set to decide on everything from what will happen to the Confederate monument in Pioneer Park to where the Robert E. Lee monument should ultimately go next Wednesday.

But during Wednesday’s meeting, the city council directed the city manager's office to study all the options and report back sometime next year. 

With three dozen people signing up to sound off at city hall on Wednesday, it’s clear that decisions about Confederate monuments in Dallas touch people deeply.

"I've been here lots of years,” said Dallas City Councilmember Sandy Greyson. “I don't think I've ever seen an issue that has touched people like this one has. People are so emotional about this issue on both sides."

Many expressed dismay over what they feel like has been a rushed process.

"In my opinion, you have already made your decision,” said resident Susan Fountain. ‘Just like the morning of the Lee statue removal when the crane was already in place as we spoke."

"I believe these hearings are a sham. Decisions have already been made,” said resident Alan Huffines. “As an 81-year-old, I am saddened at what our city has become."

One group of Dallas residents who live behind what once was Lee Park want the city council to reject a task force recommendation that the name of Lee Parkway be changed. At least one city councilmember seemed willing to budge on the matter.

Dee Genova picked the Mayfair Condominiums on Lee Parkway as her home six years ago. Now, she’s part of a group of residents in the 142 unit building who are fighting to keep their addresses the same.

“If the city wants to do something significant to do that healing, we don't think that 142 of us changing our addresses is going to accomplish that,” she said.

The pact of residents didn’t just phone their councilman. They also showed up to meetings and addressed the council last week, listing their concerns. During council on Wednesday, it appeared at least some might be listening, but not everyone thinks it’s okay to leave Lee Parkway standing.

Researcher and activist Ed Sebesta is now planning to picket outside the Mayfair on Saturday in hopes of grabbing the attention of residents that he feels are arrogant in not wanting a street tied to the Confederacy wiped out.

“It shows the mentality of the people who run Dallas, and we're going to highlight that,” he said.

Whether the city maps will change for the small street is yet to be determined as viewpoints differ on whether enough has been done to rid Dallas of symbols of the Confederacy.

The city council is now hitting the breaks. City Councilmember Scott Griggs requested that the city manager study all of the task force recommendations and report back by March of 2018.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway wanted the deadline to be even more flexible.

"I respect my colleague, Scott, who said the first quarter,” he said. “I don't care if it is the second quarter or third quarter. I want it to be the truth. I want it to be able to heal this city once and for all. That is the task before us."

Mayor Mike Rawlings later responded to complaints that the city acted too quickly removing the Lee monument.

“There is a belief that somehow this process has been a sham. That was a word used today,” the mayor said. “But I've heard it from other people, too. He wasn't the only one. I disagree with that. I think the process has been complete and inclusive.”

The mayor went on to explain that national unrest over monuments prompted the city to move fast.

“Sometimes, safety needs to be first in what we've done,” Rawlings said.

One thing revealed at Wednesday’s meeting was that the base of the Robert E. Lee monument is not feasible to move. There is also a time capsule inside the base that could warrant breaking the base up in order to open it.

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