Lawsuit:City Councils Violate Law In Ordering Confederate Monuments Removed

A lawsuit filed in Dallas County District Court claims that City Councils which have voted to remove Confederate Monuments in public spaces have violated the Texas Antiquities Act and should be arrested, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The lawsuit has prompted the Dallas City Council to delay a vote set for this week on whether to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city cemetery.

"Sites of historic interest are the sole property of the State of Texas and may not be destroyed, nor removed without a permit from the Texas Historical Commission," the lawsuit claims. "Sites, objects, buildings, artifacts, implements, and locations of historical, archaeological, scientific, or education interest that are located in, on, or under the surface of any lands belonging to the State of Texas or by any county, city, or political subdivision of the state are hereby declared to be state archaeological landmarks.  Landmarks under Section 191.091 or 191.092 of this code are the sole property of the State of Texas and may not be removed, altered, damaged, destroyed, salvaged, or excavated without a contract with or permit from the Texas Historical Commission."

The lawsuit names the Mayor and City Council of Dallas as defendants, but it would appear to also apply to the removal of the Confederate Monument from Travis Park in downtown San Antonio last year.

"The Texas Antiquities Code provides for criminal penalties for violations of this chapter," the Dallas lawsuit claims. "A person violating any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50 and not more than $1,000 by confinement in jail for not more than 30 days, or both."

This is the latest in a string of legal challenges to city councils unilaterally ordering the removal of Confederate monuments, without permission of either the state, nor, in the case of the Travis Park monument, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which owns the monument.

A lawsuit filed last summer seeking to prevent the City of San Antonio from removing the Travis Park monument was dismissed.  

The UDC filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking to have the monument, which the group paid for and received City permission to erect, returned to them. The City will only say the monument is 'being kept in an undisclosed location.'

And several conservative groups tell News Radio 1200 WOAI they plan to ask Gov. Abbott to push for a bill in the coming session of the Legislature that would strip City Councils and County Commissions of their right to order the removal of Confederate monuments, as was recently enacted in Alabama, reserving that right to the State.

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