Judge clears removal of Confederate monuments in Dallas

A federal judge in Texas has cleared the city’s decision to take down a Confederate monument from a city park.

U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater on Thursday found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans lacked a legal basis to challenge the removal of a memorial to Robert E. Lee.

In September, the city carted away the statue, which depicted the Civil War commander astride his horse Traveler and accompanied by a young soldier.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and a member of the group, Hiram Patterson, sued the city just before the scheduled removal, saying taking down Lee’s likeness violated their First Amendment rights.

Patterson and the group, represented by neo-Confederate attorney Kirk D. Lyons, made a myriad of other arguments about the ownership of statue and the land it stood on.

Among those arguments was that removing the statue from the pedestal where it stood violated the copyright on the artwork.

Fitzwater was not impressed.

“The undisputed evidence shows that plaintiffs do not own the copyright to the Lee Statue, have not been granted an exclusive license by the copyright owner, and are not in the process of negotiating any such ownership or license rights,” Fitzwater, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in a 20-page decision.

City officials removed and stored the statue amid an effort drop Confederate names from city streets and property if the person had no direct tie to Dallas. That effort included changing several street names, including those bearing the names of Lee and generals P.G.T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, William Lewis Cabell and Richard Montgomery Gano.

The removal came as cities across the country — including New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, Kentucky — took down or moved symbols of the Confederacy. 

 

Photo credit: AP Photo/LM Otero