Protesters camp out in Dallas after city council votes to remove Confederate statue

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A few protesters — including one who attended a white supremecist march in Charlottesville last month — have been camping out at a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in a park in Dallas, Texas since Friday, after the city was cleared to remove the statue, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The encampment by the protesters came in response to a near-unanimous vote (13 to 1) Wednesday by the Dallas City Council to remove the monument. A day later a temporary injunction halted the removal of the statue, but on Friday, U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater lifted the temporary restraining order and allowed the removal to proceed.

One of the protesters includes William Fears, a 30-year-old construction worker from Houston, who also marched with white supremacists in last month’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. At that rally, white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters, which resulted in serious injuries and Heather Heyer’s murder at the hands of a man who protested with self-proclaimed fascists.

Although Fears say he doesn’t belong to an “alt-right,” or white supremacist group, he doesn’t mind the label, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“Nazi is like the N-word for white people,” he said, according to the publication. “And I just embrace it.”

The removal of Lee’s 14-foot bronze statue, estimated to cost $450,000, has been delayed in the immediate future in part because of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. A contractor hired by the City of Dallas said that the removal process has been complicated due to a lack of proper equipment, skilled workers, and the original plans for the statue’s installment have been lost. Large cranes and workers have been deployed to the Texas coast to help with hurricane recovery efforts, NBC’s Dallas-Forth Worth affiliate station reported.

Once removed, the statue will be stored at Hensley Field until a Mayor’s Task Force can figure out what to do with it and other Confederate symbols.

Dallas joins a growing number of localities that have pushed to remove Confederate symbols that, for many, carry a one-sided narrative serving as a painful reminder of slavery. Washington, D.C. also recently removed a stained glass window memorializing Confederates. In South Carolina, where a white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners in Charleston, officials have stopped flying the Confederate flag on state property.

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