DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A statue in Dallas of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is expected to be taken down soon, but it will not be happening on Friday.
The fate of the monument has been in limbo since Wednesday, when the Dallas City Council voted 13-1 to remove it. City workers and heavy equipment were in place, and a harness had been placed around the statue. But, just hours after the vote, a judge granted a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans a restraining order that blocked the removal.
A judge on Thursday dismissed the restraining order of Sons of Confederate Veterans member Hiram Patterson, saying that he hadn’t proven that the removal of the monument violated free-speech rights or that the City of Dallas hadn’t provided due process for its removal.
With the okay to again remove the statue, Dallas police watched over it through the night. While everything was quiet as the Friday rush hour approached, crowds of people had stopped by the statue on Thursday to see it, take photographs and debate its removal. Onlookers then began to slowly trickle in again on Friday.
The Robert E. Lee statue was established at Lee Park 81 years ago and it will cost some $450,000 to take it down. Art conservator Michael Van Enter has been tasked with making sure that the process goes smoothly.
“Every piece of stone, every part of the statuary, is going to be saved and preserved. Nothing is going to be damaged. It’s going to be properly conserved until the task force decides what to do with it, where it’s going to be re-commissioned, either in a museum or a graveyard, wherever it’s going to go,” Van Enter said. “Somewhere that’s more secure.”
The removal of the Robert E. Lee statue may not be the end of the Confederate debate. The city is also looking at 16 street names that may be changing — including Lee Parkway.
There could also be calls to rename Lee Park, which members of the organization that cares for it are prepared to do. In a press statement earlier this week, the Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy said, “There are established and lengthy protocols for park naming. We are hoping that process can be expedited and the council will simply return the park’s moniker to Oak Lawn Park, which was the original designation of the property when the park was established in the early 1900s.”
No timeframe for the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue has been given, but after the lifting of the restraining order, city officials said that they would be moving forward with its removal. However, as crews assessed the situation on Friday, they determined that the necessary equipment was not available, so the process would have to be delayed until a later date.