The University of Texas, Austin removed four Confederate statues under the cover of darkness Sunday night. The decision was made following the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Gregory Fenves, President of the University of Texas released a statement after the monuments were removed, saying, “Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation.” He concluded, “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
Fenves, expressed that the three of the four statues shall be relocated and one shall be moved to a different location on campus. “The statues depicting Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg are now being removed from the Main Mall,” he said. “The Lee, Johnston and Reagan statues will be added to the collection of the Briscoe Center for scholarly study. The statue of James Hogg, governor of Texas (1891-1895), will be considered for re-installation at another campus site.”
UT Chief Communications Officer, Gary Susswein, expressed that the removal was conducted without any notice or warning for public safety reasons and “to minimize the disruption to campus.” Mark Peterson, a student, expressed disappointment over the college’s secretive erasing of American history, saying, “If history is being erased, at least I should be there,” Peterson argued. While, Fenves had ordered the removal to be overnight to avoid public notice, a student crowd did gather to watch as the monuments were being removed.
CBS News reports that Mike Lowe, a 37-year old black lives matter activist engaged in series of tense and aggressive arguments with white college student until police had to remove Lowe.
“They have no other reasons than ‘you are erasing our history.’ Their reasoning is flawed. These monuments represent white supremacy, and black lives haven’t mattered in this county the same as a white man’s matters,” Lowe charged.
Fenves justified the removal by arguing that the statues symbolized “subjugation of African Americans,” and thus, didn’t deserve an eminent place on campus.
“The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize” Fenves said in his statement. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”