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A massive bronze statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that was once proudly displayed in a Dallas park before its sudden removal four years ago will now lord over patrons of the Lajitas Golf Resort in West Texas.
The 14-foot-tall, six-ton statue, which depicts the traitorous general on horseback alongside a Confederate soldier, was removed from Lee Park in September 2017 after the Dallas City Council voted on the matter following the violent 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. The “Unite the Right” rally started a national trend of cities and towns around the country finally taking down their monuments glorifying the Confederacy, the union of Southern states that seceded over the threat of outlawing slavery.
Following its removal, the statue remained in storage at Dallas' Hensley Field until 2019, when a law firm based in Addison, Texas, placed a $1.4 million bid on the statue during an auction. The law firm would later donate the piece to Lajitas Golf Resort in Terlingua, Texas, later that year.
The general manager of Lajitas Golf Resort John Price did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment. But Scott Beasley, the president of WSB Resorts and Clubs, told the Houston Chronicle that the resort’s decision to display the donation on the course had nothing to do with race but rather with preserving “a fabulous piece of art.”
He also argued that few people will actually take issue with its placement, and that those who were offended are simply uninformed.
“They didn’t know the true history and the story,” Beasley told the publication. “[We] have not had any verbal comments at all, and it wouldn’t matter. If you know your history about Robert E. Lee and everything about him, it’s fabulous.”
But the history Beasley is talking about is this: Lee was a cruel slave owner who argued slavery in the U.S. was a better fate for Black people. During the Civil War, the general was also known to kidnap freedmen and bring them to the South where they were entered into slavery. On at least one occasion, he also massacred surrendering Black Union soldiers. After the war, Lee regularly encouraged others to hire white laborers instead of Black labors and hated that the U.S. gave Black men the ability to vote.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 170 Confederate statues have been removed since the 2015 Charleston Church Massacre in South Carolina. The sea change in the U.S. has even spread to the UK, where a statue of notorious slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and dumped into a nearby harbor.
But those statues removed by committee aren’t automatically smelted down and repurposed. In many instances, these statues simply find a second home, typically away from the public spotlight, thanks to preservationists who have an affinity for the Confederacy. And at least 692 of these statues are still on display in public spaces around the country, according to the SPLC.
Just last month, the very last statue of Robert E. Lee standing in the capital of the general’s home state of Virginia was removed and placed in a storage facility. The statue’s pedestal will now be the site of a time capsule.