Dallas is spending millions to remove a number of Confederate statues and monuments on public land throughout the city, but a Robert E. Lee statue in a local park remains in place, because local crane operators refuse to remove it.
The sudden urgency to remove the landmarks came after riots broke out in Charlottesville over a statue of Robert E. Lee. In Dallas, a Democrat-controlled city, the city council voted overwhelmingly to remove the statues. An attempt to remove a Lee statue in a park located in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas met with resistance, after The Sons of Confederate Veterans obtained a court order to leave it in place. The order came just in time – a crane crew had already secured the statue and was about to hoist it off of its perch of eighty-plus years when the order came in.
The court order was eventually lifted by another judge, and the city was clear to remove it. That didn’t happen, as the crane they planned to use was involved in a fatal car accident on the way to the park, and left damaged.
Attempts to secure another crane have so far been unsuccessful, because crane owners refuse to move it. They cite negative feedback from the public, and in some cases, threats against the company if they move it.
Complicating matters is the presence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who are now staking out the park to “protect” the Robert E. Lee statue. Dallas police are keeping watch over the statue as well.
City manager T.C. Broadnax said Monday afternoon he still hopes to move the statue to an unspecified location sooner than later, especially as white supremacists and self-proclaimed neo-Nazis begin gravitating to Lee Park to protest its eventual removal. Having to keep officers at the park around the clock is taxing an already stressed and shorthanded police department, Broadnax said.
But, he said, “given the construction activity in this region,” finding another available crane to remove the 12-ton statue has “become difficult.” Broadnax has also been told some crane owners don’t want the job because they don’t want to be associated with the removal of a Confederate monument.
“I’ve heard only anecdotally that there are those kinds of threats making their rounds in the crane rental, owner and rigging business — threats to people’s families, their companies,” he said. “And it’s unfortunate. … But it has been a challenge.”
The statue has been controversial for some time. In 2015, someone spray-painted the word “shame” on the statue (shown in the photo above), when the confederate flag controversy erupted.
The removal of the statue, once it happens, is expected to cost nearly half a million dollars. The statue has been in the Dallas park since 1936. Once moved, the statue will be put on display with other local Confederate monuments in an undisclosed location. Discussions to put them in a local museum, where they can be displayed in the proper historical context, are ongoing.