For a second week, Saturday headlines are filled with news of growing protest rallies calling for the removal of Confederate Monuments from public spaces. Earlier today, a Free Speech rally in Boston hosted by Confederate supporters, ended abruptly as thousands of counter-protesters showed up for the event.
Tonight at 7 p.m. at Dallas City Hall the nation’s eyes will be on Dallas for the In Solidarity rally planned. Organized via Facebook, thousands are expected to attend the rally calling for the removal of Confederate Monuments on public property. City officials are also expecting opponents to attend and are taking precautions to avoid any violent clashes between the two groups.
This will not be the first protest rally in Dallas over this issue, on Aug. 10 a much smaller confrontation occurred in Pioneer Park near Dallas City Hall. Ed Gray, NDG’s Senior Columnist, discussed concerns about The Ghosts of the Confederacy Rise Again this week. And before it was in the national limelight, Gray and historian Dr. Michael Phillips called on Dallas to lose its plantation mentality and remove the statutes.
Dallas leaders response to a growing debate
This afternoon, via his Facebook page Mayor Mike Rawlings called for respect for law after it was discovered a statue at Robert E. Lee Park was vandalized. The city has cleaned it up, however, now going forward the site will be monitored by police to prevent future vandalism.
“We will not tolerate unlawful behavior, including acts of vandalism or violence, regardless of one’s beliefs. The Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments will be ready with a recommendation by early October,” Rawlings stated.
This statement suggests he is pushing up the timetable from 90 to closer to 60 days for the taskforce to present their findings. When Rawlings announced the formation of this committee on Tuesday, he provided a 90-day timeline, with final City Council action by Nov. 8. Read more about his initial press conference in NDG’s cover story here.
If the mayor is pushing up the time for the taskforce to report their findings, possibly it is in response to a call for a quicker answer from Dallas City Councilmembers Tennell Atkins, Dwaine Caraway, Kevin Felder, and Casey Thomas. There was some criticism of the African American council members initial silence on the issue, however, the men were united on Friday on the removal of the statutes.
“We stand in solidarity to say that those statues must be and will be removed. However, there is a process that we have to go through,” said Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway at Friday’s press conference. There was a suggestion that a museum or other location providing a historical context of the Civil War was more appropriate.
The Dallas Police Department hosted an on-site briefing with officers from other law enforcement agencies, including the Garland Police Department, on Friday evening. While not disclosing many details, they have tried to assure the public, there will not be a repeat of last Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville. Anyone planning to attend is recommended to arrive via public transportation as there will be no parking, and no traffic allowed in a larger perimeter surrounding the protest site. Barriers are also in place in an effort to keep the two groups apart in hopes of avoiding violent confrontations.