Dallas’ four black City Council members gave their support to a task force, proposed this week by the mayor, that will study the issue of Confederate monuments erected in public places. Speaking at a press conference early Friday afternoon, Dwaine Caraway, Casey Thomas, Tennell Atkins, and Kevin Felder were unequivocal in saying that the statues must eventually come down, but only as part of a discussion that addresses broader problems of racism afflicting the city.
Caraway stressed one point: Trust the process.
“Who’s going to pay for it, who’s going to do it, where’s it going to be stored,” the mayor pro tem said. “Those are concerns that we must take a look at, and to make sure that we reach deeper into the effect that racism is having on our city.”
Each of the council members echoed that call for a more thorough examination of the institutional barriers erected against the city’s black communities, and of the legacy of racism in Dallas, going beyond the symbolic weight of the statues.
The City Council will appoint the members of the task force, and Thomas said an appropriate resolution would be on an upcoming council agenda. Atkins and Thomas had earlier removed their signatures from a similar petition supported by several white council members, which called for a vote on a more immediate tear-down of the statues. Mayor Mike Rawlings this week instead said the task force will spend up to 90 days at work, with room for public meetings and consultation with the Dallas Holocaust Museum, the Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation effort, and the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
The conversation over the removal of Confederate statues has picked up steam around the country after a weekend of violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. But that’s not necessarily the impetus behind the council members’ new push for the statues’ removal, Felder said.
“There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing,” Felder said.
The Dallas Morning News carried the press conference live online. You can watch it below. Later, the mayor released a memo with some more information on the task force, which is also below. Rawlings’ new memo speeds up the timeline from what he had earlier discussed, calling for ultimate City Council action by Nov. 8.