WEATHERFORD, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Parker County leaders abandoned the idea of removing a monument to Confederate soldiers from the courthouse lawn in Weatherford, instead voting unanimously Thursday to keep it where it is.
Applause broke out in the small, crowded meeting room in the historic courthouse, where commissioners explained they had received overwhelming public feedback in support of the century-old statue.
In making the motion to leave the statue where it is, county commissioner George Conley said the county could then “get on with whatever happens after that.”
Asked about the decision afterward, county Judge Pat Deen said, “We need to move on and end this.”
However, members of groups who have been in opposition to the monument, said the issue was not going away.
The vote was a turnaround from last month, when there was a petition in opposition to the statue, and a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) expressed interest in moving it to protect it.
Deen said the county and the group had spent several weeks researching the ownership of the monument and considering alternate locations.
At the meeting Thursday, however, the Texas state division president for UDC said she did not intend to move the monument unless commissioners voted for a move and directed the organization to do so.
“I feel it’s time that we stood up for what we believe in, and we make a statement, for how we feel,” said Dorothy Norred.
Deen said after the vote that he does not consider the statue a racial issue.
“We need to come together, work together,” he said. “If we respect each other, that is not a symbol of racism, it’s a symbol of history. And that we continue to work together. At some point we’re going to have to stop this, stop talking about it and come together.”
Tony Crawford has been one of the local organizers for those opposed to the statue continuing to stand at the courthouse.
He said Deen had not included the group in any discussions over the statues future over the last month.
“Its simple,” he said. “You can beat around the bush and you can use every around the way excuse you want to. But the bottom line is you told us today that you don’t care. We don’t matter. And we heard you.”
Several Department of Public Safety troopers and Parker County Sheriff deputies were positioned inside and outside of the courthouse for the vote, following clashes between rival groups last weekend.
The county has positioned a security camera near the statue. Deen said after the vote Thursday that the county was prepared to do whatever was necessary to protect it.