City Insider Reveals Why Lee Yanked
Former Dallas City Council member Sandra Crenshaw explains how a bevy of cultural communists worked to get the general’s statue pulled from its place of honor in Dallas.
By Dave Gahary
Sandra Crenshaw, a black, 65-year-old former Dallas City Council member, who’s part of a predominantly black group that formed to protect Confederate monuments, is steaming mad when she thinks about the recent assault on a statue in her beloved city. On Sept. 14—at a cost of almost a half-million dollars—a crane unceremoniously hoisted the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue that President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated in 1936, renaming Oak Lawn Park to Robert E. Lee Park.
“I was just devastated with these efforts to take down these Confederate statues,” Ms. Crenshaw told this newspaper in an exclusive interview.
Ms. Crenshaw said, “We’re just shocked at the conversation and the hatred and the protest rallies that we are seeing here in Dallas, and we keep asking where this is coming from.”
She’s surprised that the ostensibly organic protests to remove anything Confederate spread to her city, because no groups other than Dallas’s large gay community, which has a long history of opposing the Lee statue, came out to protest. Ms. Crenshaw explained that denizens of Dallas had no need to protest the statue in what she sees as a racially fair city.
“When I was on the park board,” Ms. Crenshaw began, “and we had a slave cemetery without markers, we asked for support to build a monument; it’s the only one in the country. We asked to change the name of the recreation centers—which were named after geographical locations—after African-Americans. So we have federal buildings, an African-American museum at the state fair that rivals any other in this country, a beautiful memorial that sits to the left of a Lee Confederate statue on the state capitol that is just beautiful. Texas is the first state that made Emancipation Day for the blacks a state holiday. We have a Martin Luther King statue, a Rosa Parks statue, tributes to Malcolm X, and so I just don’t know how you could be a much fairer city.”
Ms. Crenshaw explained why the gay community has had their sights on the general for 25 years. “In 1992—when I was on the park board— that was only the second time since 1936 that there had been any desire to take down the Confederate statue in Lee Park,” she said, “and it was the gay community then.” That desire was generated, she explained, by the board’s denial of a request to put up an AIDS memorial in the park.
Another event stirred the gay hornets’ nest as well.
“Lee was a Southern, Christian person,” Ms. Crenshaw explained, “and they used to have an annual Easter symphony [in the park]. The people who lived in that area went to the park department and said they were concerned about bringing their families there for a Christian event and their children having to watch two men kiss. They were very upset about that, and they didn’t know that the park director was a gay person, so the park director let some people know what they were saying. Some on the police department who were angered by this used a gay vice prostitute and caught him in the park having sex, and he got fired [in] a very public firing.”
Since no protests had materialized over any of the Confederate monuments in Dallas in spite of the Charlottesville, Va. mayhem and removal of monuments in other locations, the city’s gay community apparently decided to strike while the iron was hot. They had to overcome, however, a law that had been on the books for over 30 years to protect the monuments.
“In the 1980s,” Ms. Crenshaw explained, “[Dallas] designated all of these statues as art, and to remove them, you had to go through a decommissioning process. So, when Charlottesville, Va. went off like it did, the [Dallas] mayor and the city council panicked, and they said, ‘We better use an emergency clause to go ahead and take this statue down before any harm comes to it.’ So when we filed for a temporary restraining order to keep the city from taking it down, the judge asked [the mayor and city council], ‘What is your emergency purpose for you to circumvent your own public policy that allows the people to vote on whether or not they want to decommission this piece of art?’ And they could not give any evidence of any threats—no call-ins, no pickets, no protestors.
“The next thing,” she continued, “there were 10 or 15 African-Americans, all the TV media’s out there, and they’ve got this rope around Lee’s neck trying to pull the statue down, but there were thousands of members of the gay community, all white people, standing around.”
Ms. Crenshaw gave her take on these white agitators, who have made up the clear majority of protestors at anti-Confederate events across the country. “I get irate, I get angry, when I see an Anglo person walking around with a sign that says, ‘Make the white race afraid again,’ or wearing t-shirts that say, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ” she said. “The African-American community that lives here, we don’t even see that statue.”
The so-called protestors then petitioned the court, claiming the “protest” indicated there was indeed a threat to the statue, and got the temporary restraining order removed, leading to removal of the statue. Ms. Crenshaw and her group may have the last laugh, however.
“When they took the Lee statue out of the park,” she explained, “the gays and all of these students, they saw that as a victory for them, not knowing that it was only an emergency clause that allowed them to remove it, to protect the value of it. But it’s coming back up. They can take Lee out of that park but you can’t take Southern heritage out of Texas. This is a fight that we have got to fight. This is a fight that we have got to win, because what comes next?”
The city council will vote in late November on whether and when the Lee statue will be restored to its Lee Park home.
Ms. Crenshaw summed up her feelings on this issue: “We’re not gonna keep fighting this ‘civil war’ over again every two years when someone decides that, ‘I don’t like this, and I don’t like that.’ ”
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming full-length feature film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See erasingtheliberty.com for more information and to get the new book on which the movie will be based, Erasing the Liberty.