In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, white nationalism and statues honoring the confederacy are coming into sharper focus as Americans try to reconcile clashes between protesters and counter-protesters over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia.
Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle reported a Neo-Nazi group is linked to hate fliers distributed throughout Houston back in January.
The group, known as Vangard America, is also connected to the protester who drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.
The self-proclaimed white nationalists recently posted the fliers at two local synagogues and passed them around college and university campuses in Houston, as well as across the state of Texas.
This week, the Houston Young Communist League also requested Houston’s City Council remove a confederate war statue currently standing in Sam Houston State Park.
Titled “The Spirit of the Confederacy,” the statue, which honors those who died serving in the confederate army, is described as a representation of oppression and segregation by members of the group.
Houston Lawyer Robert Icsezen joined the voices against the statue, urging the city to move forward with removal.
Icsezen explained maintaining the statue indicates the city supports the values it represents.
He further pointed out the inscription, reading, “To all of the heroes of the south who fought for the principles of state’s rights,” which he says includes tearing apart the United States so southern states could enslave an entire group of people.
In an answer to requests to remove the statue, councilmember Jack Christie expressed concerns crowds would come after General Sam Houston’s statue next.
While Sam Houston did own a slave, he also opposed the confederacy and lost his governorship because of his refusal to support secession.
Icsezen restated he was only addressing the one statue, saying groups who oppose confederate statues are not requesting all statues be removed, but, rather, those expressly celebrating the values of the confederate south.
Since the council meeting, Mayor Sylvester Turner requested his office inventory the city’s confederate statues and develop a recommendation about what to do with each statue.
As Houston debates what to do with its statues, a group in Dallas is urging the city to preserve their confederate statues.
Made up of predominately African American citizens, the Dallas group says removing the statues will not change history or racism, but they can open up a dialogue about what happened so that the country can heal, similar to the President’s views on the situation.
While Dallas considers what to do about their statues, a march against white supremacy is planned in the city this weekend.
The group organizing the march, called In Solidarity, is also opposing confederate statues.
No matter what the cities decide to do, the conflict over the issue may remain for decades to come.