Editor’s note: The image caption previously incorrectly identified the task force member on the left as Joli Robinson, when it is, in fact, Sara Mokuria. Apologies to both ladies for the error.
By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
The first meeting of Dallas’ Task Force on Confederate Monuments meeting was momentarily derailed over confusion among some of its appointees regarding a recently scheduled Dallas City Council vote set for the upcoming Wednesday’s City Council meeting on Sept. 6.
The vote was scheduled as a result of a joint memo sent to the Mayor’s office by Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and Councilmembers Casey Thomas and Tennell Atkins requesting a vote on “recommendations of policies and procedures for the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols” – including the costs associated with removing the monuments and symbols and opening up the possibility of renaming parks and streets currently named after divisive figures from the past – the very subject the task force that convened Thursday night were created to discuss. Rawlings approved of the memo and, in response, instructed the joint resolution be put on the Sept. 6 agenda.
“The subject will be very focused about the Robert E. Lee statue,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told the task force in his opening remarks. “The result is to empower this group to do what I just talked about and to ask the city manager for immediate removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. It is my prediction that that will pass. And so, you won’t have to debate, to discuss that, but you will discuss what happens to that statue, what happens to the park, what happens to all the other things that are out there.”
It was this announcement that led to later concern during the meeting.
“I’m concerned that if the vote as the Mayor identified on Wednesday the 6th comes about that that doesn’t really follow the timeline and the process that has been outline formally,” task force member Bryce Weigand stated later in the meeting. “I think the vote should be tabled. It’s ill-advised of the Council to proceed on Wednesday without the deliberation of this body.”
In response, Waters suggested he take his complaint to the City Council.
Lee Park is perhaps a point of concern considering it was recently vandalized prior to the beginning of the planned protests in Dallas calling for the removal of all Confederate symbols. This protest was scheduled following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia but it was not the first protest rally in Dallas. A smaller protest was held on Aug. 10 in Pioneer Park near Dallas City Hall. For more background on this debate, read Ed Gray, NDG’s Senior Columnist, concerns about The Ghosts of the Confederacy Rise Again and Dallas to lose its plantation mentality and remove the statutes.
There was also considerable concern from member Joli Robinson, from the Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, who criticized the three city offices that briefed the task force Thursday – the Office of Cultural Affairs, Sustainable Development and Construction, and Parks – claiming their presentations were full of “sanitation” and asked on more than one occasion for more “historical context” regarding the creation and display of these monuments and symbols.
The next task force meeting will take place on Sept. 7 at Dallas City Hall and will be open to public comment. For the final two meetings (on Sept. 15 and Sept. 19), locations are yet to be determined. The task force aims to have its formal recommendations finalized by Oct. 3. All meetings are open to the public.
A full list of the Confederate Task Force members was announced on Aug. 24.