After Dallas City Council voted last week to remove the Robert E. Lee monument from Oak Lawn Park, the crew trying to remove it quickly ran into trouble. And the trouble hasn’t stopped.
The first problem was that although a removal plan was already in place — as were police, barricades and equipment — the removal team didn’t know that the statue was bolted in place and cemented onto the pedestal — unlike most statues placed during the mid 1930s, which typically weren’t attached to their base but simply sat in place.
Then a Dallas resident —Sons of Confederate Veterans member Hiram Patterson — filed a lawsuit challenging the removal and got Judge Sidney Fitzwater to issue a restraining order that stopped work. Crews working on removal were about 30 minutes away from lifting the statue from its base — after sawing through the bolts and loosening the statue using crowbars — when the temporary restraining order was issued.
By the time the order was lifted, the crane had left to aid in Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts in South Texas.
On its way back to Dallas and Oak Lawn Park Sunday night to complete the removal process, the crane was hit by an 18-wheeler.
Police have been stationed at the park since the council issued the order to remove the statue, due to threats that the city has received. Now, other crane operators are reluctant to participate in the removal, so the monument continues to sit on its base.
One other concern is how the statue will leave Oak Lawn. Just about every route out of Oak Lawn involves driving through underpasses. Most are 14 feet high. The statue is also 14 feet high. When loaded on the back of a flatbed, it won’t fit under and underpass unless it’s laying on its side.
Which gets me back to my solution. If riding under an underpass is going to get Lee beheaded anyway, just cut off his head, replace it with a likeness of Brenda Lee — or Stan Lee or Bruce Lee — and the city saves the removal expense, storage expense, cost of police protection and other expenses related to changing the name of the park.