DALLAS - With several delays in the removal of Dallas’ Robert E. Lee statue, one organization wants to hold a rally at Lee Park this weekend to protest its removal.
“This is Texas Freedom Force” says they plan to hold a protest this Saturday, regardless if it’s coordinated with Dallas police.
The organization’s leader says they met with the Dallas Police Department a few weeks ago, but he says they didn't get a call back about their rally until Monday.
The ‘Save the Monument’ rally was originally planned for Pioneer Park Cemetery in Downtown Dallas. Now, it will be held at Lee Park. Organizers anticipate between 300-500 people will attend the rally, with as many 100 of them will be armed.
Robert Beverly is president of the organization holding the rally. The group has protested the removal of monuments in other cities across the state.
“We plan to go in and make a statement,” he said. “We are not a violent group. We've proven that in Houston and San Antonio.
Beverly says half of the 100 armed civilians expected for Saturday’s rally are trained veterans. He says his organizers have had little communication with Dallas police since a meeting a few weeks ago.
“They were very congenial,” he said. “But I made it very clear it’s a first amendment rally. We have the right to rally peacefully without permit or without permission.”
In a statement, the Dallas Police Department said it is coordinating with organizers and “Dallas Police officers will be working security for the event and will be available to address any safety concerns.”
Event organizers say they would prefer to have police there.
“We play by the rules,” Beverly said. “I just would prefer to have it because we're going to have elderly. We would prefer that police work with us.”
The rally was recently moved to Lee Park. The statue wasn't supposed to still be there. But its removal faced another delay after a crane that was being brought in to remove the statue was involved in a deadly accident Sunday night. The city of Dallas says it’s now looking at other options to take it down.
Dallas Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway says the statue’s removal has been a drain on city resources.
"The longer it stays there longer, we have to protect it,” he said. “We're like a rubber band being caught in the middle.”
This is Texas Freedom Force says it is not associated with any white supremacy groups nor any groups that deal with race. It was not a part of the counter protests to a large rally that drew thousands of people to city hall a few weeks ago.