A Jefferson Davis statue was removed from the University of Texas' Main Mall on Sunday to the objections of the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The statue of Jefferson, who served as the president of the Confederate States of America, had sat on a limestone pedestal prominently in front of Main Mall for 82 years. Davis' statue was removed along with a statue of President Woodrow Wilson, the Austin American-Statesman reported
. In 18 months, after a refurbishing, the Davis statue will be re-installed at the Briscoe Center for American History. Wilson's will also be relocated, though it's not yet clear where.
The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans tried but failed to block the removal with the state Supreme Court on Friday.
Kirk Lyons, an attorney for Texas' Sons of Confederate Veterans, called the removal of Davis' statute an "ISIS-style cleansing of history," referencing the Islamic State terrorist group's destruction of statues and other cultural artifacts in the Middle East.
"It's gouging out the eyes out of the Mona Lisa," Lyons said, according to KVUE-TV.
"I don't like being a prophet of doom and I don't like being correct, but I very often am. They're going to come after all these other statues before it's all over with if we don't stop it now, and that's the point."
Others, though, celebrated the move in light of the Confederate flag debate that was rekindled after the June church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. That incident led to the South Carolina legislature taking down the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds.
"This is an accumulation of the decades of struggle for students of color at UT, by moving famous Confederate iconography from the center of campus [to] where it's being honored in a very prominent place," Terrell Patel, a senior at UT, told KVUE-TV.
Gregory Vincent, the university's vice president for diversity and community engagement, told the American-Statesman that the students should be credited with creating the momentum that led to the removal of the statue, saying that the conversation started with a student government resolution.
"This is an iconic moment," he said. "It really shows the power of student leadership."
While University of Texas president Gregory L. Fenves decided the keep the statues of Robert E. Lee, President George Washington, and James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas, he said Davis was in a different category because he has few ties to the state, noted the American-Statesman.
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