City News Roundup

Confederates and curfews lead this chapter of Dallas city news

Confederates and curfews lead this chapter of Dallas city news

Confederate Monument
Confederate Monument in Pioneer Park Photo courtesy of Oz's Travels

This week's city news was dominated by two hot topics that have generated loads of controversy, and that's not likely to change any time soon.

Here's what happened in Dallas news this week:

Juvenile curfew
The city of Dallas is considering a plan of action regarding the juvenile curfew, which expired in mid-January after 28 years on the books. The first of two public hearings took place on February 6, when the Dallas City Council heard more than one hour of comments from residents, ministers, lawmakers, youth group representatives, and the ACLU — the majority of which were opposed to reinstating it.

Some said that the curfew can help kids, but Rev. Rachel Baughman with Faith Forward Dallas said she was opposed because the curfew affects people of color.

"Evidence demonstrates that the curfew does not impact crime rates in our community, nor does it benefit youth safety, but instead contributes to the troubling pattern of disproportionate policing in communities of color and fuels the school to prison pipeline," she said.

Lauren Elaine Brown with the ACLU of Texas said that the city faced potential action because curfews are not legal.

The final public hearing curfew is on February 13 at 6 pm, at Park in the Woods Recreation Center, 6801 Mountain Creek Pkwy.

Dixieland decisions
Dallas continues to wrestle with how to deal with Confederate statuary with the latest dilemma being what to do about the Confederate Monument, a towering, 65-foot monument in Pioneer Cemetery.

On February 6, the Office of Cultural Affairs presented three options to the City Council: take it down, leave it alone, or reimagine the thing to provide racial and civil rights context.

The monument consists of five Confederate statues of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston and a soldier.

It was originally erected in 1897 in Old City Park and was relocated to Pioneer Cemetery in 1961. Pioneer Cemetery is a Dallas Landmark, and the city Landmark Commission would have to approve a demolition.

Mayor Pro Tem Casey Thomas and council members Kevin Felder, Tennell Atkins, Phillip Kingston, Omar Narvaez, Carolyn King Arnold, Mark Clayton, and Lee Kleinman all recommended removing the Confederate art.

Removal is projected to cost a $500,000 and could take nearly six months of approvals before any work could get started. It would be disassembled and stored out of view of the public.

If Landmark denies City Council's request, city staff would appeal to the City Plan Commission. If the City Plan Commission says no, then city would then sue both commissions to get a demolition. That process would take between three and six months.

Philip Kingston proposed bypassing all that process by first writing an ordinance to remove the red-tape process, and then vote to take down the statues.

Outgoing Council member Ricky Callahan was the lone voice for preserving the monument, saying that "it's a feel-good gesture to right the wrongs of the past," to put it to a referendum.

That's exactly what State Senator Pat Fallon (R) of Prosper is proposing in a bill before the Texas Legislature this session. His bill would require cities and other government bodies to put changes to monuments and memorials to a public vote and would add other measures to preserve Confederate and other memorials.

The City Council is expected to vote on the future of the monument and will need at least an eight-vote majority to proceed.