AFRICANGLOBE – A Texas judge Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the University of Texas (UT) at Austin from removing a statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its campus.
A lawyer for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group which had requested the restraining order, said he had not decided whether to appeal the decision. UT has said that unless there are further delays, they will remove the statue in the next few days.
Civil rights activists said the nearly century-old statue of the former Confederate president was a testament to the university’s racist history, and the statue had been defaced by vandals in May. UT Austin President Greg Fenves had announced earlier this month that it would be moved to a nearby campus museum.
“Putting it in the Briscoe Center, far from whitewashing or erasing history, but puts it in the proper historical context,” Gregory Vincent, university vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, according to the Associated Press, referring to the Briscoe Center of American History, which also hosts one of the nation’s largest archives on slavery.
District Judge Karin Crump denied the request from the Sons of Confederate Veterans and said that state laws allowed the school to determine where to place statuary on its campus.
However, the Sons of Confederate Veterans argued that the will of former UT regent George Littlefield, who donated the statue, specified that it remain in a prominent place on campus. “I think it’s just absolutely silly for them to move those statues based on someone being offended,” David Steven Littlefield, a relative of George Littlefield, said on the witness stand, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The group also brought witnesses forward to testify that moving the statue would damage it. “You’re dealing with an 82-year-old bronze,” Glenn Umberger, a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design, reportedly said. “Bronze by nature is fragile. Because they have not be properly maintained, they are probably more susceptible to damage.”
However, UT responded with testimony from Patrick Sheehy, a project specialist for Vault Fine Art Services and the man contracted to move the statue. “If I ever damage a sculpture, my business is over because you can’t have that reputation,” he said.
By: Aditya Tejas