After over a month of listening to arguments by citizens on either side of the issue, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court voted to begin the process of moving the Confederate monuments from the county courthouse lawn.
After a group of protesters gathered around one of the monuments on June 22, and the court hosted a special public hearing on July 7 regarding the monuments, County Judge Paul Pape introduced a proposed resolution during the July 13 meeting that would begin the process of moving the monuments.
The resolution, as well as the creation of a committee to oversee the moving of the monuments, were on the agenda as acti on items during the July 27 meeting.
Nine people spoke during the public comment period, many of them asking the court to approve the resolution, and seven others sent in written comments supporting the removal of the monuments.
One of the speakers was Cheryl Lee, one of the leaders of the movement to relocate the monuments. She said she met the previous week with a group consisting of people on both sides of the issue to discuss what would be the best outcome for the community, a meeting she would not have expected when the issue arose in June. She said each side acknowledged how the monuments symbolize both a memorial to fallen soldiers of the Confederacy and the promotion of slavery and oppression of African-Americans.
“On the days leading up to today, I began to reflect on how this initiative has evolved over the last 49 days,” Lee said. “I am amazed at the progression of opinions from many in the community, including this court, from a place of being miles apart in our separate opinions and beliefs, to where we are right here in this moment.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Donna Snowden said she used to not think about slavery when looking at the monuments.
“We all have different perceptions of many things,” Snowden said. “Now I look at these monuments with the knowledge that they do divide us, and they do not represent justice for all.”
Snowden pointed out that she was appointed as commissioner after her husband, Gary “Bubba” Snowden, died shortly after his re-election, so she considered what he would have done.
“Bubba would absolutely say to move the monuments to a place where they are still cared for and respected,” she said. “One of his favorite TV channels was the History Channel, but he would agree that the monuments should be relocated in order to compromise and resolve this situation.
“Hopefully, this will turn our attention to the future, and we can focus on going forward, press on through our disappointments, and encourage each other by showing kindness to all,” Snowden concluded.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Clara Beckett said she is in favor of moving the monuments, but there are still “a lot of stories to be told” about Bastrop County’s place in the Civil War and suggested creating a heritage park to showcase “the whole story, not just the story that the Daughters of the Confederacy wanted to tell.”
Each member of the court voted in favor of the resolution except for Precinct 3 Commissioner Mark Meuth, who abstained from the vote.
Next, the court discussed putting together a committee of community members to oversee the relocation of the monuments.
Lee, Bernie Jackson, Don Fannin, Carl Rees, Sumai Lokumbe and Sharah Johnson were named as charter members of the committee, and the court decided to allow up to two additional appointments per commissioner.