Dallas City Council approves auction of Robert E. Lee sculpture

The Dallas City Council gave the okay to auction off the Robert E. Lee sculpture by Alexander Proctor.

The statue has been sitting in storage since its controversial removal 18 months ago.

READ MORE: Robert E. Lee statue removed from Dallas park

Grass has filled in the spot where the statue known as Robert E. Lee and the Confederate soldier used to sit. A year-and-a-half after the statue was hauled away, it may once again be put on display somewhere else.

What happened so fast in Sept. 2017 has since been like watching grass grow. The sculpture valued at nearly $1 million has been collecting dust inside a Dallas storage facility. 

“We could have been done with this 18 months ago,” said Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston. “The fact that we're not is a staggering failure of leadership.”

The original plan for the sale would have allowed it to be displayed anywhere outside of Dallas. Council members decided that whoever buys the sculpture cannot put it in a place that is visible from public property anywhere. The city has already spent $450,000 on removal and storage.

“You bet the taxpayers are upset,” said Dallas City Councilman Rickey Callahan. “I would rather see us hire police officers, fix our streets or improve park land. Anything but this.”

“We cannot afford to have those statues be the welcoming site for the city of Dallas,” said Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold.

What to do with the statue hasn't always been black or white.

“I represent the taxpayers in District 7 as well as the entire city of Dallas from that aspect,” said Dallas City Councilman Kevin Felder. “I think we need to at least recoup $450,000 because I've heard loud and clear from part of my district that they were upset about the cost of taking down the statue.”

“We can reject any bid,” said Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman. “I don't want to put anything in the way of the disposal of this piece.”

In the end, council members voted 12 to 3 to auction off the monument as long as the city could at least recoup the nearly half million in removal costs. It will likely be a new mayor and new council who signs off on the sale. They take office on June 17.