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UT-Austin Sued For Removing Confederate Statues From Campus Grounds

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune
A crew takes down Confederate statues on the UT-Austin campus just after midnight on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.

A Confederate heritage group sued the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday for removing several Confederate statues from its campus earlier this week.

UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird confirmed Thursday that the university had received the lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Late Sunday night, 10 days before fall classes were scheduled to start, workers at the University of Texas at Austin removed statues of Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan. In an email sent to the campus community just before 11 p.m. Sunday night, University president Greg Fenves announced that the statues depict parts of American history that "run counter to the university's core values." A statue of former Texas Gov. James Stephen Hogg was also marked for removal.

Bird said the university would not comment on pending litigation but that the relocation of the statues "was handled appropriately."

The decision to remove the statues, which happened roughly a week after unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounding the removal of a Confederate statue in that town, prompted mixed reactions from Texas officials.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has previously sued the university over Confederate statues. In 2015, they unsuccessfully tried to block the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Alex Samuels is a reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Tribune in fall 2016 as a newsletters fellow, writing the daily Brief and contributing to the water, education and health newsletters. Alex previously worked for USA Today College as both a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She has also worked for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.