Texas university removes 'white
supremacy' statues overnight
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[August 21, 2017]
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) - The University of Texas at
Austin removed the statues of three Confederate-era figures from a main
area on campus on Monday, saying they had become symbols of white
supremacy and that they were taken down overnight to avoid
Violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 when white
nationalists protesting against the planned removal of a statue of
Confederate military leader Robert E. Lee clashed with anti-racism
demonstrators. One woman was killed when a suspected white nationalist
drove his car into a crowd.
President Donald Trump's reaction to the events has drawn widespread
anger from across the political spectrum. Trump did not immediately
condemn white nationalists and said there were "very fine people" on
both sides, prompting several chief executives to quit his business
councils in protest.
"Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of
Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,"
University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves said in a statement.
"These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate
monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."
Fenves announced the removal of the statues shortly before midnight on
Sunday. By about 3 a.m. local time on Monday, they had all been taken
down, said Cindy Posey, director of campus safety communications. It was
done at night as a safety measure to avoid confrontations, she said.
A growing number of U.S. political leaders are calling for the removal
of statues honoring the Confederacy, saying they promote racism.
Supporters of keeping the statues in place contend they are a reminder
of Southern heritage and the country's history.
The statues of three Confederate figures and a former governor removed
from the university's main mall were "erected during the period of Jim
Crow laws and segregation" and "represent the subjugation of African
Americans," the university president said.
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People walk at the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, June
23, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz
The statues include depictions of Lee, who led the pro-slavery
Confederacy's army, of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston
and of Confederate Postmaster General John Reagan.
Those three will be moved to the school's Briscoe Center for
American History, where they will be accessible for scholarly study,
Workers also removed a statue of former Governor James Stephen Hogg,
who led Texas from 1891 to 1895, years after the Civil War ended in
1865. It will be considered for re-installation at another
university site, Fenves said.
Several cities have targeted Confederate symbols in response to the
violence in Charlottesville. They include Baltimore, Maryland, which
removed four monuments to the Confederacy in a pre-dawn operation
last week, and Birmingham, Alabama, where the mayor vowed to seek
the removal of a Confederate monument in his city.
On Saturday, Duke University removed a statue of Lee from the
entrance of a chapel on the Durham, North Carolina, campus.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Raissa
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