By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
A boisterous crowd of Dallas-area residents took the full two-hour time period at the specially called Dallas City Council Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 25 to make their opinions known on the continued removal of Confederate monuments and the changing of street names and parks associated with Confederate figures. The meeting was the final opportunity for the public to have their voices heard on the issue in response to the formal recommendations made by the Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments. Among the task force’s official recommendations, was the renaming of the Confederate Cemetery, the altering of symbols related to the Confederacy in Fair Park, the changing of streets named after Confederate leaders or generals, and the storing of the Robert E. Lee Statue in a museum or educational institution.
Out of the 56 people on the agenda to speak, the overwhelming majority spoke in opposition to the proposed changes. Amid vocal heckling and shouts of “boo!” and “democracy!”, many who spoke targeted individual members of the task force as well as council members Philip Kingston and Dwaine Caraway for criticism. A man on a mobility scooter entered the council chambers just after the beginning of the meeting, with an American flag and a Confederate battle flag attached to his vehicle.
“Removing statues, changing the names of schools, parks and streets are further dividing this city,” Dallas resident Deborah Cook told the Council. “I’m ashamed of the leadership of my birthplace city, and I don’t like the direction that Dallas is going. Please leave our history of Dallas alone.”
While many were scolded by Mayor Mike Rawlings for speaking off-topic – often focusing on issues like affirmative action in hiring practices and other race-related matters – some took more nuanced views, approving of the removal of the Lee Statue and other glorification of Confederate figures while disapproving of the changing of street names.
“For the five streets identified for change, all appear to be under five blocks long and affect approximately 300 residents and businesses,” said one Turtle Creek resident. “Is there something else the City Council could do to educate and unify the citizens or is the city simply looking for headlines to flash to make it appear you’ve done something significant – when really you’ve haven’t done anything significant at all.”
Despite one man’s call for a public referendum on the issue, the Dallas City Council is expected to hold its own vote on the approval of the proposed changes on Wednesday, Nov. 8.