Statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee Removed From Dallas Park - NECN
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Statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee Removed From Dallas Park

A police escort guided the heavy-duty crane that was brought in to perform the removal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Confederate monument that stood in Dallas for 81 years is now off its pedestal and stored out of sight under lock and key. (Published Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017)

    Crews have removed the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Lee Park in Dallas Thursday.

    After about two hours of work, the statue was hoisted from its pedestal at the park near Uptown and loaded onto a trailer. Just before 7 p.m., behind a line of police officers and with onlookers taking pictures on their phones, a pickup truck hauling the trailer began to roll out to an abandoned naval air station owned by the city on its western outskirts. It's expected to remain there until city officials decide the statue's future.

    Earlier in the day, a police escort guided the heavy-duty crane that was brought in to perform the removal along Interstate 35E and Woodall Rodgers Freeway en route to the park.

    Several officers blocked entrance ramps along the route to keep traffic out of the way.

    The 14-foot-tall, 6-ton statue depicting Lee on horseback flanked by an anonymous Confederate soldier was erected in what was originally called Oak Lawn Park. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the statue in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial celebration.

    The Dallas City Council voted Sept. 6 to remove the statue but was met with a series of delays.

    On Sept. 7, U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater granted a temporary restraining order to stop the removal of the statue until a hearing could take place, following a complaint by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    The next day, the city filed a response to the TRO saying the plaintiff's rights were not violated, that due process was not denied and that removing the statue does not cause them due harm. The judge agreed, and the removal was allowed to continue.

    The same group filed an amended complaint on Thursday, but a judge did not intervene in the statue's removal.

    Dallas police officers had been stationed at the park to ensure the safety of the workers and onlookers throughout the removal process.

    The city needed to secure a crane large and strong enough to remove the large statue, but a crane coming from Houston to do the job Sunday night was involved in a fatal crash.

    A spokesman for the city of Dallas said an art conservator was on site at the park Thursday to confirm the proper handling of the statue during its removal. The statue will now be taken to storage until officials decide what to do with it.

    In a statement released Thursday evening, the Lee Park Conservancy said, in part: "The Conservancy does not own the statue; we maintain, support and beautify the park and the Hall. We do recognize, however, that this change is a turning point for us and everyone who values the park for its oasis-like setting and peaceful atmosphere. We are hopeful our neighbors and supporters will unite with us to create a positive future for a park that is a destination for thousands every year."

    A task force appointed by Mayor Mike Rawlings has been discussing options for how to handle statues, streets, parks and other landmarks named after Confederate figures in the city.

    Among those decisions, the task force recommended changing the name of Robert E. Lee Park. If that recommendation is followed, the park would revert to its original placeholder name of Oak Lawn Park until a permanent name is chosen.