As the nation debates what to do about Confederate monuments, the city of Dallas is at the forefront of change, making some of the biggest decisions on its monuments thus far.
While the conversation over what to do with streets and statues with Confederate ties can be hostile, even within the committees in charge of decision making, Dallas officials say the city did not anticipate the level of backlash they are now experiencing from the public.
Since the statue of Robert E. Lee came down from a pedestal in the park of his namesake on September 14, Dallas City Council members, who voted 13-1 in favor of the removal, are reportedly receiving threats, some of which rise to the level of violence and death.
— Robert Wilonsky (@RobertWilonsky) September 25, 2017
Council member Lee Kleinman, who is Jewish, said she received an anti-semitic photo of someone giving the Nazi salute.
Council member Jennifer Stauback Gates, who is white, said she also received hateful phone calls filled with foul language and threats, calling her a traitor, a failure and a disgrace.
Despite the hostility, Philip Kingston, the council member who led the push to remove the Confederate memorials, said many of the people complaining are not from Dallas.
“We’re almost done with this process. And at this point, the people who are complaining are not from inside the city,” Kingston said in an interview.
In explaining why it is important to remove the statues in Dallas, Kingston mentioned the city’s goal of attracting new business investments, such as the new Amazon headquarters, known as HQ2, which is prospectively coming to Texas.
“It’s analogous to showing up to a job interview with a face tattoo,” he said regarding his impression the Confederate monuments give off for businesses looking to invest.
Houston and Dallas are currently competing to attract the Amazon project, set to bring many high-paying jobs to the area.
Meanwhile, San Antonio is joining the charge of cutting Confederate influence from the state, changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School to Legacy of Educational Excellence High School.
Protesters in Bexar County are also calling for the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue, which they say represents oppression.
“We need to take these statues down because we don’t need to be constantly reminded of our oppressors and the bad history, so we need to take these statues down,” protester Juan Aguirre sad in an interview.
A number of Confederate statues can be found across Houston, but, aside from some vandalism to a Christopher Columbus statue earlier this summer, the debate is not at the forefront of discussion in the Bayou City.
This is a developing story.