UT Austin removed Confederate statues from campus overnight


Following on the heels of places like the city of Baltimore, the University of Texas at Austin quickly and quietly removed three Confederate statues and one statue of a former Texas governor in an overnight operation that began late Sunday night, the New York Times reported Monday.

The three Confederate statues that were removed depicted Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston as well as John Reagan, a Confederate cabinet member. A statue of former Texas Governor James Hogg, the son of a Confederate general, was also removed but may find another spot on campus, the Times reported.

Eric Gay/AP

In a statement posted on Sunday night and later emailed out to alumni, the university’s president, Greg Fenves, said that the decision to relocate the Confederate statues to an academic building for “scholarly study” was spurred by the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier in August, when a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally centered around a statue of Robert E. Lee led to the death of a peaceful counterprotester.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” Fenves said in the statement. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”

Fenves also referenced the advice of a task force created by the university to “evaluate” Confederate statues in the wake of the 2015 mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Eric Gay/AP

“The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” Fenves said in the statement. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”

Since the events in Charlottesville, several other places and institutions that have removed or relocated Confederate statues. In Annapolis, Maryland, earlier in August, lawmakers quietly removed a statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case, which upheld slavery and denied black people American citizenship in 1857.

Speaking about the push to remove the Taney statue, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that “the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history.”