Treviño, Shaw Reignite Confederate Monument Debate

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Joshua, 4, climbs on top of a historic canon at Travis Park during the protest.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Joshua, 4, climbs on top of a historic canon at Travis Park during the protest.

City Councilmen Roberto Treviño (D1) and William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) filed a council consideration request (CCR) together on Monday to explore the possibility of relocating the Confederate monument in Travis Park.

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.”

Shaw, who feels optimistic that the initiative will make it to the Council floor, made relocating the statue one of his campaign promises. He outlined the process after filing the CCR for the Rivard Report over the phone Monday.

“A CCR pretty much opens up a dialogue for Council, so it has to go through a certain committee established by City Council to vet and have a discussion,” Shaw said. “Once it comes out of … the Governance Committee, it can come to the floor of city council.”

The area of relocation would be decided on by a committee made up of community members and staff from various City departments including the Department of Arts and Culture, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Office of Military Affairs.

“San Antonio is a city rich in culture and diversity, so our public spaces should reflect that by being welcoming to everyone,” Treviño said. “The relocation of this monument is not an attempt to wash away the hard truths of our history, but rather to ensure that our diverse array of citizens and tourists can enjoy Travis Park, one of the city’s most prominent parks.”

Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) wants his constituents to be able to weigh in on the matter.

“We anticipated the filing of this CCR so we have taken to polling the residents of District 10 on where they lie on this proposal,” Perry stated in an email to the Rivard Report. “Understandably, this proposal merits a robust discussion, including the relocation site and cost of relocation. I look forward to hearing staff’s recommendations and the community’s input.”

The monument’s removal would open up the park to a larger re-imagination of its purpose and function, Treviño told the Rivard Report in a phone interview Monday. Some organizations have already expressed interest in hosting the monument should the City decide to relocate it.

“There are many things evolving for Travis Park,” Treviño said. “There [are] many things we would like to see in the revitalization of Travis Park that this effort is also going to make some room for: more public art, more amenities, and create a park that is inclusive and really representative of the evolution of the city today.

“The approach to Travis Park is more comprehensive, and not a simple replacement of one monument for another.”

The monument in Travis Park features a gray obelisk that reads “Least We Forget” and “Our Confederate Dead” down its front. An unnamed Confederate soldier stands atop the structure with the names of several Confederate soldiers carved around its base, hardly visible behind the shrubbery that surrounds them.

“Relocating the statue will be a major step forward in working to ensure our public spaces are inclusive for all, as San Antonio is a city for and by the people,” Shaw said. “Context is key when it comes to our history, so relocating this statue to a space more fitting to educate the community is a step in the right direction.”

Recent criticism and critique of Confederate monuments have led to several removals across the city, state, and nation. In July 2015, Bexar County Commissioners voted to remove several plaques that sought to memorialize Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, each plaque featuring Confederate flags.

“We are simply not going to glorify a symbol that to many people is a symbol of fear and a symbol of hate,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff had said at the time.

Yet debates continue over whether the removal of Confederate monuments, or renaming schools named after prominent Confederate figures, constitutes historical erasure or promotes more public inclusivity. Previous ideas for addressing the monument have included contextualizing the area with informational plaques or boards.

In San Antonio, several groups have demonstrations planned on just this topic.

On July 4, Black Lives Matter activists hosted a protest calling for the immediate removal of the monument in Travis Park. Counter protestors stood by dressed in garb from the 19th century, fielding questions from reporters and defending the purpose of the memorial in the park.

A group of people dressed in period confederate outfits stood alongside in opposition to the the protest.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Members of Sons of Confederate Veterans arrive in period outfits and stand in opposition to the protest.

This Is Texas Freedom Force, a group committed to protecting Texas and Texas history’s monuments, has scheduled a protest against the proposed relocation for Aug. 12. According to a statement published on the group’s event page, the monument should remain where it’s stood since 1899 to preserve history.

“This Is Texas Freedom Force has taken the stance since our formation that [none] of Texas History should be erased,” the statement reads. “Those that do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. We believe that this monument should continue to proudly stand just like it has since 1899 without being touched.”

The group reportedly partnered with Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups for the event. The Facebook event page encourages participants to come armed with side weapons and license to carry cards. Confederate, Texas, and American flags are encouraged, but organizers state that racist flags or iconography will not be tolerated.

SATX4, the Black Lives Matter affiliate group responsible for the July 4 protest, will hold a counter protest the same day. A statement on the event page claims that the group will not stay silent in the face of monuments that stand for white power and hate.

Mike Lowe walks with a defaced Confederate flag following a rally against the Confederate monument at Travis Park.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

SATX4’s Mike Lowe walks with a defaced Confederate flag following a rally against the Confederate monument at Travis Park.

Both protests are to be held in Travis Park.

As the public continues its debate over whether or not it is right to remove these monuments and memorials, City Council seems prepared to take action.

“It’s not about erasing, it’s about preserving that statue, that monument, and putting it into the proper context,” Shaw said, “and assuring individuals who live here and those who come to visit, that they are accepted here in San Antonio.”

10 thoughts on “Treviño, Shaw Reignite Confederate Monument Debate

  1. Hopefully they can put it next to where ever they find to relocate Frost’s statue off Houston st facing the future city building.

  2. As I’ve said all along – get a local artist to design a Black soldier and a Union soldier standing at the base of the monument and call it a “Monument to ALL the Fallen Dead of the Civil War.” History is fact – you don’t bulldoze Auschwitz because it’s painful to remember such a place existed.

  3. This is nothing but politicians race-baiting to get themselves noticed to further their careers. Here are a few facts ; San Antonio was rated in the top 10 this year by Travel and Leisure Magazine, but guess who was rated number one – CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – who has tons of Confederate monuments! In fact more than half of those in the top 15 of favorite destinations were cities that were home to many Confederate monuments. Tourist are far more interested in authenticity than they are in cultural cleansing.
    Don’t Mess With Texas History!

  4. Is it really that offensive to commemorate citizens of our state who died in a war over a hundred years ago? Do persons actually find Travis Park to be unwelcoming?

    I’d hate to find out what would happen if people decided they disagreed with the views of those who died in the Texas Revolution as well.

  5. I like Will’s solution.

    I hope they enjoy being recalled. It’s history, people’s family members died. Some people are still under the misconception that the Civil War was about slavery. It wasn’t. It was like any other war. About power and territory and $$$.
    How about an open forum and educational debate about history rather than just agreeing to be cordial and accommodating domestic terrorists (BLM) by removing the very things that have played a role in shaping who we are now.

    Those who erase history are doomed to repeat it. Pretty soon it will be out of textbooks or rewritten to “soften” reality.

    “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

    ~Milan Kundera

  6. Whites who refused to fight for the slave owners were jailed or hanged. Many refused to fight for the confederate authorities because of a law that exempted slave owners from the draft. Thus, the Civil War was about slavery and was a plantation owner war in which poor whites had to die. The statue needs to go to a museum where this can be told
    Former City councilman Mario Salas

  7. Whites who refused to fight for the slave owners were jailed or hanged. Many refused to fight for the confederate authorities because of a law that exempted slave owners from the draft. Thus, the Civil War was about slavery and was a plantation owner war in which poor whites had to die. The statue needs to go to a museum where this can be told
    Former City councilman Mario Salas

  8. I’m disappointed that Council has not steered any of the current conversation towards (re-)removing the two Confederate cannons from Travis Park — which were not in the park from approximately 2011 to 2014 (based on Google streetview imagery and descriptions of the cannons being placed in City storage).

    Scott Ball has beautifully photographed one of the Confederate cannons with the image that leads this article (which should be captioned ‘Confederate’).

    According to the City’s history of Travis Park, the Confederate cannons were abandoned at the Battle of Valverde (in New Mexico — along the Camino Real as part of the Confederate / Sibley campaign for California) and retrieved by Confederate Major Trevanion T. Teel after the war and donated to the City. The cannons were parked in Travis Park in the late 1800s (close to thirty years after the Civil War ended and apparently considered controversial at the time — the ‘scoff of a later generation’) and have been moved around to various points within the park over the years as mobile weaponry.

    The Confederate cannons do not serve to memorialize the Civil War dead and should not have been reintroduced in Travis Park as part of recent City of San Antonio ‘revitalization’ of the park — work supported, in part, by Southwest Airlines and the St Anthony Hotel (part of Marriott International Inc.).

    The cannons should be returned to the battlefield where they were used and abandoned by the Confederates in their retreat back to San Antonio; Fort Craig, New Mexico (Socorro County) National Park Service would likely be the best recipient. At Fort Craig, the cannons could help to serve as a reminder of how the Confederacy was defeated in New Mexico in 1862, including with the aid of the ‘mostly Hispanic 1st New Mexico Volunteers commanded by Colonel Kit Carson’.

    See:

    Walking Tour of Historic Travis Park (City of San Antonio)
    https://www.sanantonio.gov/portals/0/Files/HistoricPreservation/TravisParkWalkingTour-OHP.pdf

    VALVERDE, BATTLE OF
    https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qev01

    Fort Craig National Historic Site (National Park Service)
    https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/el_camino_real_de_tierra_adentro/Fort_Craig.html

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