Dallas votes against selling Robert E. Lee statue, delays decision on other monuments

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The Dallas City Council on Wednesday voted against selling the infamous Robert E. Lee statue that was removed from Lee Park last fall.

The vote came after a heated debate on another Confederate war memorial in Pioneer Park, near City Hall. Council members ultimately decided to postpone their decision on the structure.

Last month, city staff recommended leaving it in place and adding historical context. However, some council members like Philip Kingston argued it should be torn down. Kingston said the council voted in September that displays of Confederate monuments on public land are wrong.

Councilman Rick Callahan disagreed and said he believes the city should honor war dead. He did not support the demolition.

Tennell Atkins, one of three black council members who voted to delay any decision on the memorial, said he just wanted to do what was best for Dallas and race should be taken out of any consideration.

“I don't want my city torn apart, I don't want my neighborhood torn apart. I don't want a lot of BS because of these statues,” Atkins said. “Let's do it right. Why are we rushing it? Let's do it right. So we are sure the taxpayers know where the money is going to be spent where the money is going to come from.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Gates, who also voted for a delay, said the council didn’t have the information needed to vote on the issue during Wednesday’s meeting.

Because the council didn’t sell the Lee statue to a Confederate museum, it will remain in storage.

More than 50 members of the public signed up to share their opinions during the meeting. One man in the crowd was taken away in handcuffs after yelling, “Shame on you.”

The council also voted against renaming streets with Confederate ties and to form a group to study how to properly memorialize the lynching of Allen Brooks.

Kingston had hoped money from the sale of the Lee statue could be used to create a memorial for Brooks. He was a black man who was lynched in front of the Old Red Courthouse in 1910.

It is now up to the city manager to bring the confederate memorial issue back before council when he has more information about the removal options.