'The Cost Is Justified': $450,000 Spent and One Life Lost to Remove Robert E. Lee Statue
Removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee may cost the Dallas City Council as much as $450,000, and one life has already been lost in connection to this project. Even so, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that these costs would be worth it.
"This decision is fundamentally not about money. This is a decision about morality, about right vs. wrong," Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement released Wednesday evening. "The cost is justified for the same reasons I have stated repeatedly: In my view, this statue has become a dangerous totem of racism, especially in light of the deplorable display in Charlottesville of torch-weilding white supremacists marching in support of a Robert E. Lee statue there."
According to Rawlings, fighting a symbol — whose connection to white supremacy is debatable — is worth nearly half a million dollars and one life.
On Sunday night, a truck driver was killed when his vehicle slammed into a crane that was on its way to remove the statue, The Dallas Morning News reported. The crane was being driven in from Houston. The truck driver was pronounced dead on the scene by Dallas Fire-Rescue, while the driver of the crane did not suffer significant injuries.
According to City Manager T.C. Broadnax, the truck driver ran a red light. He was moving "at a very high rate of speed and failed to yield the right of way," according to a city statement.
"Obviously, we're heartbroken someone lost their life," Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune told The Dallas Morning News. "Our thoughts and prayers are with their family."
The accident delayed the removal yet again, after the first crane ordered by the city proved to be too small. The statue was set to be removed last Wednesday afternoon, immediately after the city council voted (13 to 1) to take it down. Since the crane was too small, the Sons of Confederate Veterans gained a temporary restraining order delaying the removal until Thursday. A judge later dissolved that order.
The 81-year-old statue of Lee reportedly weighs 12 to 14 tons.
In a series of questions and answers on the Dallas city newsroom site, the city announced that the crane was "extensively damaged" by the accident and "will not be available for this job."
The city admitted that the "estimated cost to remove the statue" is "in the $400,000 to $450,000 range." Tellingly, the release added, "There may be some additional costs because of delays due to unforeseen circumstances and having to stop work due to filing of the temporary injunction."
Nearly half a million dollars — with "additional costs" likely!
One of those potential additional costs is the Dallas Police Department detail, who the city announced would be "stationed at the park to maintain security until the statue is removed."
Furthermore, the city confirmed that there have been "anecdotal" threats "directed at the crane rental, owner and rigging businesses." The Dallas release added, "This is unfortunate and makes the job of removing the statue that much harder."
NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth further reported that the Dallas police "have positioned officers at the park 24/7 this week."
Are white supremacist rallies that likely in Dallas? Whoever is threatening the moving companies should be ashamed of themselves — the Dallas City Council members made the decision to do this.
Mayor Rawlings may wish to take a stand against white supremacists, and that is very admirable. But statues of Robert E. Lee are not merely a white supremacist rallying cry — they are a facet of American history. Lee fought for the government established on slavery, but he was not a purely wicked character.
A deeply committed Christian, Lee even worked hard to reunite the country after the Civil War and by many accounts treated his own slaves well, going so far as to break Virginia law by teaching them to read.
Perhaps Rawlings should think twice before insisting on spending half a million dollars on such a project. After all, polling suggests that most Americans do not want to take the statues down. More African-Americans support keeping the statues up than want to take them down.
In Dallas specifically, a group mostly made up of African-Americans organized to protect Confederate statues. "I'm not intimidated by Robert E. Lee's statue. I'm not intimidated by it. It doesn't scare me," former city council member Sandra Crenshaw, a black woman, told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. "We don't want America to think that all African-Americans are supportive of this."
"Some people think that by taking a statue down, that's going to erase racism," Crenshaw added. She dismissed this idea as "misguided."
Indeed, the movement to remove Confederate monuments has involved violent protests, vandalism, and even attacks on statues that have nothing to do with the Confederacy. One statue of Junipero Serra, whom the liberal Pope Francis canonized as a saint, has been vandalized. Another zealous group of social justice warriors damaged the statue of the French saint Joan of Arc. Protesters have targeted a statue of Thomas Jefferson, and a Roman Catholic school actually removed statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, to avoid alienating people.
Perhaps most egregiously, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left defamation outlet that compares mainstream Christian organizations to the KKK, released a map of every Confederate monument in America. The SPLC warned of "turmoil and bloodshed" from these monuments.
Indeed, the SPLC even listed cities, towns, military installations, and even schools — elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools — on this list. A similar "hate map" actually inspired a terrorist attack in 2012. While such a drastic situation may be unlikely at these schools, it is reasonable to suspect that protesters might bring violence in the middle of the school day.
All the same, the crane arrived on Thursday. It seems a lost life and nearly half a million dollars were not enough to weaken Mayor Rawlings' resolve. Dallas voters must decide whether or not that is a good thing.