A group that wanted to keep the Robert E. Lee statue in place at Dallas’ Lee Park will go ahead with its pre-planned protest on Saturday.
Robert Beverly's group, This Is Texas Freedom Force, planned to use the Lee statue as the backdrop to his cause to keep the monument. Now the barren base that sits there has grown the fire in his belly even hotter.
“They are embarrassing the State of Texas,” Beverly said. “They are embarrassing me and we are going to reverse that.”
Part the reason cities across the country have taken the Confederate statues down quickly is so those opposed to the removal cannot use it as a rallying point. But This Is Texas Freedom Force says their fight isn't over.
The group will shuttle its supporters into Lee Park starting late Saturday morning. They are a pro-open carry group and they are encouraging their people to come armed. Dallas police will have security on site, but Beverly says his group will be ready to protect themselves if police don't.
“I do not have full faith in them honestly because of the way they have handled this situation -- but that will be the only reason that we have a problem,” Beverly said.
While preps for the rally are underway, preps for the annual Dallas Pride festival are also happening. The event is slated to be going on around the same time less than a mile away from Lee Park at Reverchon Park.
“They are going to have Pride happening at the same time as these people with guns are going to show up there and it just doesn't sound like a good idea for those two groups to mix – period,” said Melanie Brand, who supported the statue’s removal.
Festival organizers said previously they are not worried since the parks aren’t directly next to each other. Beverly doesn't expect the groups to mix.
“If they stay away from our area of operation and they don't have any interactions -- we are not going to go and stir anything up,” Beverly said.
While some residents say they're concerned for safety at the rally and plan to stay away, others may come to show their support.
"The city council voted to not give us a vote. They voted to say no the people of Dallas cannot vote on this issue," said Beth Biesel. "They basically silenced our voice. They're listening to a very few. "
Speeches will likely start at Lee Park about 1 p.m., with the protest wrapped up by 2:30 p.m. This Is Texas Freedom Force says that Dallas PD will keep counter-protesters across Turtle Creek to avoid any potential problems.