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:

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Will the statue be removed today? Yes!  No!

Update 12:02 am: The statue of Robert E. Lee will be moved and stored. More than 50 people signed up to speak at this morning’s City Council meeting concerning the removal of the statue, and several more (including Pierce Allman) were not able to make it to the mic. Per a motion filed by Mayor Pro Tem Carraway, the statue is to be removed and stored in a safe place (using city funds, then to seek private funding to reimburse the city for the removal and storage) while the task force seeks input, discussion and a final decision. Ricky Callahan made a motion for a citizen’s vote: thinks moving the statue might hurt the upcoming bond vote. Says 15 member council should not have power to remove statues, needs to be taken to the voters. Callahan also suggested re-naming Lee Park to Freedom Park. His motion only got 3 votes – 4 for the record, but Kevin Felder did not intend to push the button. Felder wants Lee Park to go back to the original name Oak Lawn Park. Jennifer Gates reminded us of the history framing the erection of the statue and the anti-black deed restrictions (still) found in many Dallas neighborhoods and was the only member who asked the City Manager for the cost of removal ($450,000). Her comments were touching as she relayed a story her father, Roger Staubach, had told about encountering racism while in the Navy. But Philip Kingston really hit the nail on the head: “These monuments represent a false telling of history… there is no erasing of history today.” Let the discussion begin.

The Dallas City council is holding a special vote this morning on the Robert E. Lee statue on Turtle Creek Blvd. There are speakers scheduled, including a lovely woman I met last evening at the statue at Robert E. Lee Park over on Turtle Creek. The meeting is said to be a formality, really, because the bulk of the Council has already decided to tear the statue down after a proclamation made weeks ago by Philip Kingston. You can read all about it here from Jim Schutze.

Sources tell me the voting will begin at 9:45 am as cranes move in at 9:46. Dallas police have been ordered not to tell anyone this, nor to publish any posts on FaceBook, stemming off any violence (which was why I decided not to post this last night.) DPD have blocked off the streets surrounding the building. Are the cranes far behind?

Meantime, the Dallas print media is looking like night and day on this issue.

Over at the Dallas Morning News,  Tristan Hallman says a new group that includes Pierce Allman of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, has formed and is saying, “whoah Nellie” to yanking down that statue. His story ran 12 hours ago.

The new group, Dallas Citizens for Unity and Reconciliation, hopes the City Council will hold off removal while a task force analyzes and discusses what do do about the statue and city’s other Confederate symbols. Presumably they are speaking at Council today.

“It looked like it was just moving too fast,” said Hank Tatum, one of the group’s leaders, referring to the removal fever.

Other members of the new group besides Tatum, who is a former Dallas Morning News editorial page editor, include former Dallas Morning News columnist William Murchison, Pierce Allman, husband of his company’s namesake and a well-deserving Father of the Year, real estate executive Kirby White, and Jane Manning, co-founder of the Lee Park and the Arlington Hall Conservancy.

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