SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio is poised to remove a contentious Confederate monument from Travis Park, though it isn't clear when that could happen.
The mayor and City Council voted 10-1 Thursday to remove the monument and two cannons from the park and donate them to a yet to-be-determined nonprofit. The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit, trying to block to the monument's removal, but a judge shot that down and other plaintiffs' request for a temporary restraining order.
"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.
District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino and District 2 Councilman William "Cruz" Shaw filed a council consideration request in July to remove the monument and markers. The mayor sped the process up, announcing Monday he had requested the monument's removal on the council agenda.
Following Trevino and Shaw's request, public debate over the issue was passionate on both sides and on one weekend included opposing rallies at the monument.
On Thursday, more than 15 people addressed the council, most of them in favor of removing the monument.
"Anybody who goes anywhere in our town needs to feel they are a part of something inclusive," said Pastor Jerry Dailey, who spoke in favor of removal.
"These are our ancestors. I'm not saying they were right, but you cannot remove it," said Elizabeth Sunderland, one of a handful of speakers against removing the monument.
The entire, weeks-long debate was not always as civil, as Councilman Shaw revealed. In an unguarded speech to the rest of the council and audience, Shaw said he got threatening, racially charged messages.
"During this whole process I got emails that say 'N*****, if you vote for this, we'll get you,'" he said.
District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry was the lone vote against removing the monument, saying it was because the council didn't follow the proper process.
"If I were a private citizen out there wanting to move a historical building or even tearing it down, I would have to follow that process," he said.
Nirenberg said, however, the council followed the process in the city charter.
Now the process of removal begins. Though as city leaders waited for the judge's ruling Thursday, it was unclear when that could happen.
"We're going to move swiftly," Nirenberg said, saying it depended on the court when exactly the city would be able to start.