Last-Minute Restraining Order Halts Dallas City Council’s Attempt to Remove Statue From Lee Park

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A temporary restraining order was filed by Hiram Patterson at the last minute, stopping the Dallas City Council from removing the statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Park.

Robert Wilonsky and Tristan Hallman at the Dallas Morning News alerted us that, just as soon as crews were trying to figure out how to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee astride a horse in Oak Lawn’s Lee Park, work was ordered to stop. That’s thanks to a temporary restraining order filed by one Hiram Patterson. 

The statue, a symbol of one of the most revered figures of the long bygone Confederacy, has been a contentious subject around the horseshoe at 1500 Marrilla. The vote, which took place earlier today, ended with 13 council members and our Mayor Mike Rawlings voting for removal, with Sandy Greyson objecting — she wanted more time to study — and Ricky Callahan straight up walking out. 

U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater granted a temporary restraining order as the removal appeared imminent. The Dallas City Council had voted in favor of immediate removal earlier in the morning and crews had been trying to figure out how to remove the statue through much of the afternoon.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The case was brought by Hiram Patterson against Mayor Mike Rawlings and the City Council.

According to the Dallas Central Appraisal District, there’s only one Hiram Patterson on record, residing in Northeast Dallas. A cursory Google search brings up a lot of Confederate flags. And gravestones. Here’s who filed the suit, according to D Magazine:

The temporary restraining order was filed by Kirk Lyons, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “white supremacist lawyer,” on behalf of Hiram Patterson and the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who contend in the motion that the removal of the statue is a violation of their rights of free speech and due process. Lyons, who denies being a white supremacist and called himself a “Christian attorney of Southern ancestry” in an interview with the New York Times, filed a similar lawsuit against the University of Texas after it removed Confederate statues on its campus.

Read the full complaint after the jump:

2017-09-06_Confederate Monuments_Plaintiffs' Original Complaint by Joanna England on Scribd

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for CandysDirt.com. While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. David says

    Temporary set back. The property is owned and maintained by the City of Dallas and the elected representatives of the people of Dallas. What chance does one red neck racist have? Slim to none I say. Get rid of it now.

    • Ross H says

      “the elected representatives of the people of Dallas.”

      If the poll at NBCDFW is to be believed, a majority of people don’t want the statue to be removed. I wonder how many of those people live in Dallas though.

  2. John Sieber says

    Whether you are for or not, it is no longer safe for the statue nor the public and local residents to have utvon prominent public display. Put it somewhere safe for its admirers.

  3. Johnny frisbeen says

    Candy I would sure like to hear your opinion on renaming Dallas landmarks since many of the streets, dorms, plazas are named after individuals who were in the KKK or associated with the KKK. I think we can all agree that the KKK was a horrible organization and I am wondering whether similar steps should not be taken to rename these streets, dorms at local colleges, plazas, etc. Perhaps you would like to lead this charge?

    • mmCandy Evans says

      I would love to lead it. Mulling this all. For one thing, look what has happened with the removal of the statue: the TRO. I am wondering now if we just are not opening Pandora’s box.

    • Jordan Brooks says

      I thought you were against removing the statue? Now you want to change a bunch of street names, too? I’m confused.

      I think the best idea is probably to remove the big statue that screams “FIGHTING FOR SLAVERY” to all passerbys while leaving basically-anonymous street names alone.

      Dunno why you think we have to do both.

  4. john debner says

    Does anyone know anything about who created the statue?

    I don’t know if that needs to be considered in its future use.

    • Joe Hill says

      It is one of the finest monuments created of Robert E. Lee dedicated by FDR at the same time as the dedication of Arlington National Cemetery on Lee’s Estate.

  5. CRITIC says

    $500,000 for removal?
    What a waste of taxpayers money
    Is this really what our city council needs to be spending time on?
    No wonder 9% of the populace votes on council elections.

    Disposal of the piece? Auction it

    • mmCandy Evans says

      $450,000 and that 9% is the reason why we have such a dysfunctional city government. Get out and vote! Right now only the infirm and elderly vote! So they are, in essence, shaping our lives.

  6. Joe Hill says

    Hooray!!! A judge with some common sense. I spoke at yesterday’s Council meeting in favor of keeping the statues ( and all other historical monuments). My observation was that a majority of the speakers were in favor of at least delaying the decision to give the “task force” more time to study (and hopefully give the uninformed more time to google “Robert E Lee” to learn that he was neither a traitor or racist). Colonel Allen West gave a strong plea to retain the monuments. I was shocked and disappointed to discover that the Council had already made their decision and had crews standing by to remove the monuments. It felt like a kangaroo court. The only fair way to make this decision is to put it to a vote by the citizens of Dallas County. I will continue to support keeping the status quo but will accept any decision made by the citizens.

  7. renato says

    “As far as the money that went into the park, it was $90000 in the very beginning. My family put up $45000 of the ninety, half of the money” – John Lee, described by KLIF News as a great-great-grandson of General Lee. The KLIF article says that Mr. Lee “feels that the statue is being stolen from his family” and that he offered to buy the statue from the city at the Wednesday council meeting. In another interview, Mr. Lee said that the city has failed to provide proof that it actually owns the statue despite several requests from him. Does this mean that the statue was in effect a gift from the Lees to Texas to honor the soldiers from the State that fought so well in the Virginia army? Why isn’t the media making a bigger issue of the situation?

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