Six Months Later, Travis Park Confederate Statue Controversy Continues

Its been six months since the Confederate monument which stood in Travis Park downtown for more than a century was removed by the City in the dead of night, but emotions over the midnight removal have not gone away, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

In fact, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which paid for the statue when it was erected in 1899, with full city permission, is warning that San Antonio taxpayers may end up paying a hefty price for what they consider to be the hasty and illegal actions of City Council.

"The statue was never given to the City, and so, as our private property, we want it to be placed back," Robin Terrazas, President of the Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the UDC, which is pursuing a lawsuit against the City over the statue's removal, told News Radio 1200 WOAI.

The removal of the fifty foot tall obelisk topped by a likeness of a Confederate soldier came in the middle of the debate that followed the violent march by White Supremacist groups in Charlottesville Virginia.  That event prompted a re-examination of Confederate related icons, statues, and other items across the country.

On September 1, following several very contentious meetings, and approval of the move by City Council, the statue was removed from the park, and has been stored in an 'undisclosed location' ever since.  The debate over the statue's removal was one of 1200 WOAI's Top Ten news stories of 2017.

Terrazas says that it is illegal for the City to keep the statue, which was clearly paid for by the UDC when it was erected with much fanfare in 1899, and was never deeded over to the city.  She calls the City's refusal to turn the statue over to the City, 'theft of private property.'

"We have no idea where the statue is, and we have no idea where the time capsule is, if it even still exists," she said.

A time capsule which was inserted into the base of the statue when it was dedicated on Jefferson Davis' birthday in 1899 continues to be another issue debated as part of the lawsuit. Terrazas says city officials have told her differing stories about the status of the time capsule, which contains several personal items of Confederate soldiers and, like the statue, is not City property.  She says at one point, even though newspaper articles clearly tell of inserting the time capsule into the statue, City officials told her that talk of a time capsule inside the statue was 'folklore.'

She also bristles at the City's repeated claims that removing the statue was a way to fight 'racism.' She says the statue was never meant to have anything whatsoever to do with race, it was simply built to honor the sacrifice of Texans who fought in the Confederate Army, the vast number of whom had no connection to slavery.

She also points out, ironically, that Travis Park itself was donated to the City by Samuel Maverick, who fought in the Confederate Army.

"The City said they would include us in this whole decision and they have not included us at all," she said.  "They have not had any conversation with us."

There has been talk of the statue being re-erected at the Confederate Cemetery on the city's east side, or possible at a museum as part of a section on Texas in the Civil War.

But Terrazas says the UDC needs to make the final decision. And it also wants its statue back.

She says the lawsuit also seeks monetary damages from the City for its actions.

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