Just two days after the North Side ISD Board of Education voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School, San Antonio City Council is expected to vote today to begin the process of removing the 19th Century Confederate monument from Travis Park, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The proposal to remove the monument was made two months ago by downtown Councilman Roberto Trevino and east side Councilman Cruz Shaw. Mayor Nirenberg, who supports removing the monument, says people will have an opportunity to speak out before a vote is taken.
"We are prepared for whatever of public input is necessary," Nirenberg said. "We will listen to everybody and then we will close the chapter."
Supporters and opponents of the monument got one last chance to speak out last night at the regular Wednesday night 'Citizens to be Heard' work sessions. Several 'anti racism' groups rallied in the plaza in front of City Hall, and several members of the 'This is Texas Freedom Force,' some of them armed, patrolled Travis Park to 'protect and guard' the monument itself.
Trevino says its time for the process to take its course.
"I am glad that the process was accelerated, yet follows the intent of our request," he said. "We strive to be a compassionate and inclusive city, but understanding begins with education, and education begins with conversation. Going forward, community involvement will be critical to developing a thoughtful and appropriate process.”
But two members of City Council are not excited that the 'process was accelerated,' and Clayton Perry and Greg Brockhouse have accused Nirenberg of using the conversation about Hurricane Harvey to fast track the monument's removal by bypassing the usual proactive of taking the issue first to a council committee and then to a council work session, called a 'B-Session.'
Brockhouse has gone further, and said under the City Code, the City Council doesn't even have the authority to decide the fate of the monument, saying that is rserved for the city's Historic Preservation Review Board.'
The cost of removing the monument is expected to be about $150,000.
Like the Robert E. Lee name change, the monument removal is short on specifics. Trevino says a private contractor will be selected to remove and house the monument, until a citizens committee selects an appropriate place to display it in 'historical context.'
The monument was erected by the United Daugthers of the Confederacy in the late 19th Century and dedicated to 'Our Confederate Dead.' Reports of the dedication ceremony indicate that the Confederate anthem 'Dixie' was played and the 'Rebel Yell,' which was the call made by charging Confederate soldiers, was heard.
Critics say the monument is part of a movement called 'The Lost Cause,' where an attempt was made as living memory of the war was fading, to 'whitewash' the history of the Confederacy, into what historians have called 'moonlight and mansions.' The goal was to explain the poverty, violence, Jim Crow racism, and backwardness of the south in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries by blaming it on the 'War of Northern Aggression,' and portraying the Confederacy as a noble, knightly undertaking which was destroyed only due to the industrial might of the north.