Planning commission rejects appeal on removal of Confederate memorial at Pioneer Cemetery

A two-year battle over Confederate monuments in Dallas has continued. The city’s final step in the process is set to take place Thursday night.

The Dallas City Council approved the removal of the Confederate monument three months ago, but two appeals then triggered the planning commission hearing.

The six-story, towering monument now has a giant tarp over it, which was put there after vandals spray painted it.

The monument has a statue of a Confederate soldier at the top, surrounded by statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and his generals, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Albert Johnston.

The landmark commission decided in March that the statue was a “non-contributing structure to the historic overlay of the cemetery,” in part because while it was built in 1896, it was moved to the cemetery in 1961, to make room for the RL Thornton Freeway.

Chris Carter argues in his appeal that the city illegally backdated documents to get the issue on the landmark commission’s March 4 agenda.

He argues the rushed timeline prevented him from presenting evidence of the monument’s historical significance.

“For me, I look at the Confederate monument as being his tombstone. 3,000 graves in Pioneer Cemetery, most unmarked, I feel this represents their tombstone,” Carter said.

Carter says if the planning commission denies the appeals, he will then file an appeal in district court, where a state judge will decide.

The city attorney stressed in a response to the appeal that the landmark commission did not approve the demolition of the monument, only the removal, and the city plans to find a more appropriate setting where it can be displayed with context about the Civil War.

There is also legislation approved by the Senate, which is now being discussed by the House, that would make it tougher for cities to remove Confederate monuments.

In a case like this one, it would require a super majority. Though the vote in this case was a super majority: 11-4.