The Dallas City Council will vote during the next four weeks on whether the city should remove all monuments to the Confederacy throughout the city and rename schools, city parks and other public facilities named after Confederate figures.
The vote will occur in one of the most racially charged political environments in recent memory after a demonstrator drove his Dodge Challenger through a crowd of counterprotesters during a white supremacist rally in Chalottesville, Virginia. One person was killed, and 19 were injured.
Five Dallas City Council members — Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Casey Thomas, Mark Clayton and Philip Kingston — signed a memo earlier this month calling for a vote on removing the city's tributes to the confederacy, forcing Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to put the item up for a vote on a City Council agenda before September 13.
That memo would've been filed sooner if not for the actions of council member Tennell Atkins. Atkins, who represents southwest Dallas' District 8, signed the first draft of the memo before withdrawing his support for placing monument removal on the agenda. When the Observer called Atkins' office Monday afternoon to ask why he withdrew his support, we were placed on hold for several minutes before being told that Atkins would get back to us if he could find time to talk. He did not call us back.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who has called on the Communities Foundation of Texas to study the issue of what the city should do with its physical reminders of its Confederate past, could push for that idea again when the issue comes to a vote next month as an attempt to sidestep controversy, Kingston told the Observer Wednesday.
While Rawlings' office did not address whether his attitude had changed in its response to the Observer's request for comment, Rawlings released a statement late Monday calling the events in Charlottesville "horrifying to watch."
"People that support neo-Nazis and white supremacists should be called out for what they are: pure evil," Rawlings said before promising to address the attack and "related issues" during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
While tension around Dallas' monuments certainly increased during the summer and culminated over the weekend, there are no signs that the city will be the scene of white supremacist violence of the type that occurred in Virginia. A rally is planned Saturday afternoon at Dallas' Confederate war memorial to protest Dallas' Confederate symbols, but no counterprotest has been announced.
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