As two City Council members seek to relocate the Confederate monument in downtown’s Travis Park, a State Senate bill filed during the Legislature’s special session seeks to bar local governments from removing or altering certain monuments and memorials on public property.
State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) filed Senate Bill 112, which would keep memorials and other historic designations, such as building names, that have been in place for at least 40 years from being removed or altered. Filed Monday, the bill defines protected monuments as “a permanent monument, memorial, or other designation … that is located on state property; and honors an event or person of historic significance.”
On Thursday, Councilmen Roberto Treviño (D1) and William “Cruz” Shaw (D2), who together filed a council consideration request on Monday to explore the possibility of relocating the Confederate monument, denounced SB112 as seeking to undermine local government.
“SB 112 is yet another attempt by officials at the State level to weaken local government entities across Texas,” Treviño stated. “Furthermore, each city and town in Texas is not only unique demographically, but historically. It is foolish to think that this callous and heavy-handed approach is in the best interest of our diverse and growing population.”
Shaw, who was elected in June, pledged during his campaign that he would get the memorial relocated. He criticized the bill for being too broad.
“One size does not fit all in situations such as this,” Shaw stated. “San Antonio’s municipal government should not be undermined by State officials, especially those who do not have the fortune of living in our great, inclusive city. SB 112 is not seeking to preserve history, but rather to strip municipalities of their voices in how history is displayed.”
The Travis Park monument erected in 1899 is inscribed with a tribute to “Our Confederate Dead.” An unnamed Confederate soldier stands atop a stone obelisk with the names of Confederate soldiers carved around its base.
The councilmen want to find a more appropriate location to house the memorial, where its historical value may be preserved and integrated in an educational context. An alternative site for the monument has not yet been proposed by either of the councilmen, but Treviño has said that there are parties interested in providing a place for it should it be moved.
Controversies over removing monuments to the Civil War and the Confederacy have simmered since the shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, by an admitted white supremacist in June 2015. After the shooting, South Carolina’s general assembly voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol grounds, and the last of four Confederate statues in New Orleans was removed in May.
One confederate monument in Austin was removed in August 2015. A statue of Jefferson Davis, previously located on the University of Texas campus, was removed and taken to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, which is located on another part of the campus.