Anti-supremacists rally for statue removal

The Dallas City Council is moving forward with plans considering the removal of Confederate statues near City Hall and in Lee Park. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings wants the Council to take action by Nov. 8 after a task force makes recommendations for the removal and storage of the structures to the Office of Cultural Affairs.

East Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston is calling for a Sept. 27 vote on a resolution that would condemn all Confederate monuments and the naming of places for Confederates. The resolution calls for “expeditiously” removing the monuments and renaming streets, parks and other city-owned property.

According to Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway, it may cost $4 million to remove, store, and relocate two Confederate monuments. Kingston thinks otherwise. He believes that, financially, it would cost much less and be easier to bulldoze them.

The action was prompted by the Dallas Against White Supremacy rally at Dallas City Hall Aug. 19. The march took place a week after the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., resulting in the death of Heather Heyer.

State Police and local jurisdictions assisted DPD during the rally. All were sporting riot gear for the event.  Massive sanitation trucks filled with sand and a few DART buses barricaded City Hall to prevent any possible repeat of the Charlottesville incident where a car ran over a counter protester.

 Protesters at the Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park near City Hall in Dallas, Aug. 19.

Protesters at the Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park near City Hall in Dallas, Aug. 19.

According to the city, an estimated 2,300 protesters attended the rally. Barricades were put up to protect the Confederate Memorial at Pioneer Park Cemetery as self-described militia members turned out to support efforts for the historic monuments to remain. Opponents disagreed and engaged in heated debate, calling for the statue to be taken down.

Among those attending the rally were City Council member Omar Narvaez and activists Rev. Michael W. Waters and Dominique Alexander.

The streets near City Hall were temporarily closed as the city took proactivemeasures to prepare for the unexpected. Protesters held signs that read “Love Trumps Hate,” “No KKK,” and “White Supremacy Not Welcome Here.”  A makeshift memorial at City Hall commemorated Heyer, who was killed during the violence at the Charlottesville rally.

The Dallas event was peaceful until nightfall when protestors clashed with law enforcement. DPD officers on foot and horseback pushed disorderly protestors out of Pioneer Park and onto the streets. By that time, the rally had ended and people dispersed.

Eric Ramsey, the organizer of the rally, notified DPD in advance about a group that could cause problems.

“I was aware that Antifa [Anti-Fascists] were on their way here,” said Ramsey. “And I was also aware that they were turned away from our rally because they were carrying weaponry.”

By nightfall, tensions had intensified as some antagonizers began marching and yelling obscenities at the police. DPD didn’t take any chances and did their best to avoid any escalation that could have encouraged violence like at last year’s march that ended with a heavily armed sniper killing five Dallas police officers and wounding nine others.