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In Tarrant And Denton Counties, Officials Vote To Remove Confederate Monuments

A stone tablet reads "In memory of Confederate soldiers, 1861-1865, and their descendents who served in Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II."
Miranda Suarez
Tarrant County Commissioners voted to remove a monument commemorating Confederate soldiers that sits in front of the county courthouse on June 9, 2020.

Elected officials in both Tarrant and Denton Counties on Tuesday voted to remove Confederate monuments that sit near their courthouses.

Debates over the monuments had been renewed by the worldwide protests over the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

In Tarrant County, some community members expressed support for keeping the monument, which sits in front of the county courthouse and was erected in 1953. The Commissioners Court voted 4-0 to remove it, with Commissioner J.D. Johnson abstaining.

Commissioner Roy Brooks presented the motion to remove the stone. He said it was not a memorial, but a reminder of who held the power in the Jim Crow era.

"I would argue that it has a chilling effect on justice," he said.

Brooks suggested the monument be taken down until it can be displayed elsewhere with more historical context.

Johnson said his feelings about the monument were mixed, and that it commemorates more people than just those who fought over the issue of slavery. 

"As I was not here in '53 when the monument was placed, I didn't vote for it, I'm not gonna vote to remove it. I'm going to abstain," he said.

Commissioner Devan Allen said, as a student of history, her feelings on the monument were complicated, too — but it had to come down.

"I'm here because people ask me to think about our future, and while I certainly want to be sensitive to our history, I have to be much more concerned about our future," she said.

A Confederate soldier has stood atop a ceremonial arch in front of the Denton County Courthouse since 1918. County commissioners voted unanimously to remove the monument on Tuesday.

In Denton County, commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to start the process to remove and relocate the Confederate memorial. The soldier atop a ceremonial arch has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1918. 

For the past several days, residents across the country have been protesting police brutality and systemic racism – and pushing for the statue's removal. During Tuesday's commissioners' meeting, several people spoke in support of removing the statue.

"Something happened when Mr. Floyd died, these citizens rose up,” County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said. “And I could see the hurt that they were having. And if removing this statue would help heal some of that hurt, I'm all for it.”

Denton County Judge Andy Eads says the statue will be preserved and used as an "educational tool.”

Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.
Galilee Abdullah is an arts reporter.