DALLAS - The controversial Robert E. Lee statue in Dallas was removed from Lee Park Thursday afternoon.
The crane removing the statue received a Dallas police escort down I-35E and arrived at Lee Park about 4 p.m. Workers then began the tedious effort to remove the large sculpture without any damage. They were able to lift the statue from its base around 6:45 p.m and began loading it on a truck to be taken to storage near the Grand Prairie-Dallas border.
A large group of spectators gathered at Lee Park to watch the statue's removal. Some watched quietly while others got into a boisterous debate.
For Ambaiy Haile, it was a great day. She has pushed for removing it since the violence in Virginia last month.
"It's a reminder that people like me were never meant to be in this city to begin with, let alone the country," she said. "And to see it being removed and seeing city council and the mayor actually listening to us makes me feel better about my place in the United States."
The removal was painful for Joanne Turner. She was a member of the Dallas Southern Memorial Association which commissioned the statue to be built.
"My husband and I contributed almost $500,000 to restore Lee Hall, and we know it's going next because I mean we tried our best to fight this," she said. "Franklin Roosevelt said that Robert E Lee was a fine man, a fine Christian and a fine gentleman. So why can't we tell that story?"
Some like Bill Bowens lived in Dallas for years and never noticed it.
"I had to pay attention to the fact that that statue was a rallying cry for the most deplorable aspects of our society, the neo-nazis, the KKK, all of those folks," he said. "And when I realized that this was their rallying cry, then my paradigm shifted immediately."
The successful removal followed a turbulent week of attempts.
On September 6, the city council voted 13-1 to remove the statue. But on the same day, a temporary restraining order stopped crews in the middle of removing it.
A few days later on September 10, a crane that was being brought in from Houston to remove it was involved in a deadly accident.
The statue will remain in storage until the city figures out what to do with it next.
'This is Texas Freedom Force' was planning a rally at the site of the statue in Lee Park. But even after its removal the group told FOX 4 the rally is still on "even more so."