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charlottesville aftermath

University of Texas removes Robert E. Lee, 2 other Confederate statues late Sunday night

Late Sunday night, work crews began removing four statues from a main mall on the University of Texas campus in Austin, three of them Confederate leaders and the fourth a former Texas governor. UT Austin President Greg Fenves announced the removal in an email to the campus community just before 11 p.m., saying the three Confederate statues — two generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate postmaster general John Reagan — "run counter to the university's core values." The events in Charlottesville last weekend, he added, "make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

Those three statues will be relocated to the Briscoe Center for American History on campus, while the fourth statue, of former Gov. James Stephen Hogg (1891-95), will likely be relocated elsewhere on campus. In 2015, after the shooting of black congregants at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Fenves convened a committee to examine the three Confederate statues plus one of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president; he then had the Davis statue and one of President Woodrow Wilson moved to the museum, leaving the four statues that are being taken down overnight.

UT Austin spokesman Gary Susswein said the statues are being removed in the middle of the night, 10 days before fall classes start, "for public safety and to minimize disruption to the community." Some protesters against the removals showed up anyway, as did some counter protesters, as the Austin American-Statesman's Mary Huber documents. "We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus," Fenves wrote. "Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry."

Update 4 a.m. EDT: All four statues have been removed. Peter Weber