Confederate statue removed from Travis Park

Mayor, City Council voted 10-1 to remove monument

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter , Ben Spicer - Web Producer

SAN ANTONIO - The city of San Antonio removed a Confederate statue in Travis Park overnight after the City Council voted on the measure Thursday.

Crews encountered the monument’s large and cumbersome body.

For almost six hours early Friday, workers tried to figure out how to remove the obelisk that supported the statue. The fear is that the piece could slip out of a clamp once the crane lifts, one worker said.

The removal of the statue was supposed to be completed by 7 a.m., but was still not done at the time of this story’s posting.

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San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenburg and the City Council voted to remove the monument as well as two cannons from the park at a city council meeting yesterday.

The plan is to donate them to a currently unnamed nonprofit.

"This is, without context, a monument that glorifies the causes of the Confederacy, and that's not something that a modern city needs to have in a public square," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg following the council vote.

The City Council on Thursday voted 10-1 in favor of the removal, a response to a national discussion of the placement of Confederate monuments.

The lone dissenting vote was by District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, who earlier expressed issue with timing so close to Hurricane Harvey, and the mayor circumventing the Historic Design Commission, which is charged with handling historic monuments in San Antonio.

Several members of the city council showed up to watch the preparation and start of the removal Thursday evening.

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez says although it was a 10-1 vote, it was not an easy decision and many months of discussion went into it.

He says he’s proud other council members showed up to witness the monument’s removal.

“I think that leadership isn’t just about listening to people and making a decision but also putting your hands on, putting your eyes on, the consequences of your vote so I’m very thankful for my colleagues that showed up tonight,” said Pelaez.

San Antonio police chief William McManus said he prepared for the worst, considering the violence in Charlottesville surrounding the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. McManus wouldn't say how many officers were assigned to the park, just enough to handle a "very, very large crowd"‚Äč.

“We don't anticipate, we plan for the worst case scenario. We don't want to end up like Charlottesville. We want to make sure we're prepared even if that means we're overprepared.” Said McManus earlier.

Throughout the morning officers turned people away as they approached the park.

An officer at the scene said the force is currently being stretched thin as the removal of the statue was unexpected and they are also presently manning the hurricane shelters in town.

One organization fighting the removal, The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, filed a lawsuit trying to block the monument’s removal but a judge shot down the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order.

A far cry from Thursday’s emotional city council meeting, KSAT’s crews saw no protesters in Travis park overnight or this morning.

Work crews had to take the monument apart piece by piece, one worker saying the crane used could only handle eight thousand pounds at a time.

Both the confederate soldier and two cannons were loaded onto flatbed trucks around Midnight Friday morning.

This is a developing story. Stay with KSAT 12 both online and on-air for more information.

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