Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced Monday that City Council will vote Thursday on a proposal to remove the Confederate monument and two cannons in Travis Park.

“It is time for San Antonio to relocate the statue in Travis Park and ensure that monuments to the Confederacy are placed in their proper context,” Nirenberg stated in a press release.

The decision bypasses a Council Consideration Request submitted in July by Councilmen Roberto Treviño (D1) and William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) that would have put the removal proposal before the Council’s Governance Committee. Treviño had previously told the Rivard Report that the Governance Committee, which decides what items are to be voted on by the full Council, would consider whether to bring the item to a full Council vote on Sept. 13 or 20.

As mayor, Nirenberg is the chairman of the Governance Committee and has the unilateral discretion to move any item being considered by the committee to a full Council vote.

“We have received extensive input from citizens who support and oppose relocating [or] moving the statue,” Nirenberg stated. “Hundreds of San Antonio residents have voiced their views directly to council in ‘citizens to be heard’ portions of our meetings and through phone calls and emails.”

Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) said he was troubled by the timing of a vote that promises to be controversial on the heels of the widespread flooding and damage across Southeast Texas by Hurricane Harvey.

“I am concerned because this item was posted on our Council agenda today without a proper briefing in B Session to fully sort out the details as a Council,” Perry stated in a press release. “Additionally, this concerns me because we are not allowing the public the ability to sit in citizen-led commission meetings, allowing our own district appointees an opportunity to do the role they were assigned.

“After this weekend’s events across Texas, it concerns me that we are rushing a divisive issue when we should be concerned with continuing to help Texas.”

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) said the City’s Unified Development Code requires a decision on park monuments to lie with the Office of Historic Preservation, the Historic and Design Review Committee, and the City manager.

“It has become increasingly obvious [that] the Mayor will circumvent the process and change the existing Code to remove and relocate the Confederate Statue at Travis Park,” Brockhouse stated in a press release.

(from left) Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), and Mayor Ron Nirenberg form a line to be introduced.
(From left) Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), and Mayor Ron Nirenberg stand on a staircase before being introduced at a recent North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce event. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

A citizens to be heard session will be hosted Wednesday night inside City Council chambers. Residents who register are given three minutes to address the full Council, and registered groups are given nine minutes to speak.

A session hosted two weeks ago drew an armed group of militiamen who told the Rivard Report they were there to protect one of the individuals speaking against removing the monument.

“I want to remind San Antonians that we welcome their comments and all residents should feel comfortable expressing their opinions openly without fear of intimidation as this discussion continues,” Nirenberg said. “While we have seen tragic events such as those in Charlottesville, San Antonio has had a civil discussion of the issues surrounding the proper historical context of Confederate monuments.”

It is not known to where the cannons and the 40-foot monument, which features a statue of a Confederate soldier atop a granite obelisk bearing the inscription “Lest We Forget Our Confederate Dead” would be relocated. The statue was unveiled in 1900.

The removal of Confederate monuments in southern cities has accelerated in recent weeks, following violence that erupted at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., at which white nationalists protested plans to remove a statute of Robert E. Lee from a local park. One person was killed when a man with ties to white supremacist groups drove his car into a group of counterprotesters.

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.