Confederate statues removed from Austin campus of Texas University

Updated 2017-08-22 09:32:27 Xinhua

The University of Texas (UT) at Austin removed Confederate statues late Sunday night before classes are set to begin, UT-Austin President Greg Fenves said on Monday in a press release.

Fenves said the decision had been made after the violent protests in Charlottesvile this month. He said that the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia "made it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

Fenves said the statues, depicting Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan, will be placed in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History for scholarly study. The statue of James Stephen Hogg, former Texas governor, may be re-installed elsewhere on campus.

The Briscoe Center is an organized research unit and public service component of UT-Austin, named for Dolph Briscoe, the 41st governor of Texas. The center collects and preserves documents and artifacts of key themes in Texas and U.S. history and makes the items available to researchers.

"We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus," Fenves said, adding "as UT students return in the coming week, I look forward to welcoming them here for a new academic year with a recommitment to an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all."

One week ago, violent clashes broke out as white supremacist protesters clashed with counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia State, leaving both sides bloody, bruised and battered.

Reports indicated that police were overwhelmed and backed off, leaving the two groups in a chaotic free-for-all. A car plowed into the counter protesters, sending bodies flying and killing a 32-year-old woman.

Austin, located about 250 km northwest of Houston, is the capital city of Texas.

UT-Austin assembled a 12-person task force to decide if Confederate statues should remain on campus in 2015, shortly after a white supremacist gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

In August 2015, the university announced it would move a statue honoring Jefferson Davis to a museum. At the time, Fenves said the other statues could stay because of the men's connections to Texas.

Jefferson Davis was an American politician who served as the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, also the only president of the Confederacy.

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people attended a protest in Houston for the removal of a Confederate statue. Protesters held a slogan that read: "White people, what will we do today to end our legacy of violence?"

Black Lives Matter Houston organized the protest to call for the removal of the "Spirit of the Confederacy" statue in a Houston downtown park.

Tensions remain high across the United States as cities and universities move forward with plans to dismantle Confederate monuments.

Today, scores of Confederate statues remain across the nation, including more than 20 in Texas, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

James Douglas, president of the Houston branch of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), said it's a sad state in America.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, he said, "We have retrogressed and race relations have worsened rather than improved. We are probably in the worst position we've been in since the 1950s."

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