A monument to Confederate soldiers that stood in a San Antonio, Texas, park for more than 100 years is now history.
U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans challenging the removal of the memorial from Travis Park.
Ezra, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans lacked legal standing to challenge the city’s decision to remove the statue. The decision is the second in three months upholding the removal of a Confederate statue from a public park in Texas.
In June, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel concluded that removing Confederate statues from the University of Texas hallways did not violate the free-speech rights of the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to hold unpopular viewpoints, therefore the people bringing the lawsuit had no grounds on which to file suit.
Ezra cited the earlier ruling in his 16-page decision dismissing the lawsuit.
Ezra concluded that claims of being proud of Confederate heritage are not a basis for a legal challenge to the removal of the statue.
“Plaintiffs are likely more deeply attached to the values embodied by the Monument than the average person walking through Travis Park,” Ezra wrote, “but their identities as descendants of Confederate veterans do not transform an abstract ideological interest in preserving the Confederate legacy into a particularized injury.”
The ruling is the latest to allow a city to remove a Confederate monument from public space. A spate of rulings has upheld the right of cities to remove or relocate Confederate monuments in New Orleans , Louisville, Kentucky, Dallas, Texas, in Austin, at the University of Texas, and Memphis, Tennessee.
Since Dylann Storm Roof, who waved a Confederate battle flag on video, shot and killed nine people in a predominantly African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, more than 113 Confederate symbols have been removed around the country.
City officials in San Antonio removed the Confederate monument in the early morning hours of August 31, 2017. The statue was similar to hundreds of others across the country, featuring a Confederate soldier with his right arm outstretched toward the sky and his index finger pointing upward.
The city also removed two memorial cannons from the park.
The removal came two weeks after a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and two Virginia State Troopers, and left dozens of people injured.
City officials at the time referenced the rally as reason for moving quickly to take the statue down.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans in Texas sued the city, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights, that the city didn’t hold the rights to the land where the statue stood and that the removal was an improper use of taxpayer money. The group sought not only to restore the monument, but also have it held in a safe place and preserved while the litigation played out.
Before Ezra’s ruling, Texas had at least 68 markers and monuments to the Confederacy still standing on public grounds.
Photo credit Reinout Van Wagtendonk