Just days after one person was killed when violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a new controversy is arising over Confederate symbols nationwide. And now it has arrived in Houston. An online petition is calling for the removal of the "Spirit of the Confederacy" monument at Sam Houston Park, which has stood for 109 years. The petition started by the Young Communist League of Houston says the monument allows white nationalists to "sow disunity and spread terror."
At this week's Houston City Council meeting, several people called on the city to remove the statue for similar reasons. Mayor Sylvester Turner responded that the answer isn't that simple. "You can't just all of a sudden say, 'We are going to go in and tear down everything. That's not the answer," he said. "We all have values that we want to protect and we can hold to those values and we can do it in a very peaceful, respectful way."
Opponents of taking down the statue argue that removing pieces of history sets a dangerous precedent. "This is not going to be confined to the South and Southern icons, monuments, flags, and things such as that. It's going to eventually go to every corner of this country," says Michael Hill, president of Alabama-based League of the South. "It will go on to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and really if you get right down to the bottom of it...it's very much an anti-white movement."
For his part, Mayor Turner plans on appointing a panel of historians to study each of Houston's monuments and decide the best path forward. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings made a similar announcement earlier this week, after a push to remove Confederate symbols in that city.
PHOTO: Houston Parks Dept.