U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater ruled Thursday afternoon, Sept. 7, that the city of Dallas may go ahead with plans to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Oak Lawn Park, also known as Lee Park. Fitzwater lifted the temporary restraining order that he had issued Wednesday afternoon, about 30 minutes before crews at the park to remove the statue
The restraining order, issued in a hurriedly-filed lawsuit by Hiram Patterson, came as a crew was loosening the statue from its base. Patterson, reportedly a member of The Sons of the Confederacy, claimed removing the monument would cause him “irreparable harm.”
According to an interview conducted by the Dallas Morning News, the 25-year Dallas resident had driven passed the monument before but had only recently actually gone to Oak Lawn Park to visit the statue. An attorney from North Carolina, Kirk Lyons, represented Patterson in the suit. Lyons is a co-founder and chief trial counsel for an organization called the Southern Legal Resource Center. Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Alabama and tracks hate groups in the U.S., calls SLRC “the legal arm of the neo-confederate movement.” Read what all Southern Poverty Law Center has to say about Lyons here.
Police were called Thursday afternoon to surround the Lee statue again after Fitzwater lifted the restraining order. But the crane, which was already in place Wednesday before the Dallas City Council’s 13-1 vote to remove the monument, was gone from the park. An officer at the scene Thursday said the company couldn’t get the crane back to the park during afternoon rush hour traffic and he wasn’t sure when the statue would finally be removed.
On Wednesday, most people who flocked to the park after the vote wanted the monument gone. Today, the crowd was much more sparse, but seemed to be composed mostly of monument supporters.