University of Texas removes 4 Confederate statues overnight

ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The University of Texas at Austin is removing four Confederate monuments that it says have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the school announced on Sunday.

The university said the monuments -- which honor four figures tied to the Confederacy -- were erected during the period of segregation and “represent the subjugation of African Americans” and therefore should be taken down.

The statues -- which depict confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, former U.S. Sen. John Reagan and former Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg -- were taken down early Monday morning.

The news comes in the wake of a deadly outbreak of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia -- which began in protest of the planned removal of a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee -- that left one dead and 19 injured after a car-ramming attack. Police arrested James Alex Fields, 20, and charged him with second-degree murder in the incident.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves said in a statement Sunday. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”

Fenves said he spoke with faculty, students and alumni, and reviewed a 2015 task force report before making the decision.

The bronze monuments of Lee, Reagan and Johnston will be relocated to the school’s Briscoe Center for American History for scholarly study, Fenves said. The statues of Hogg, governor of Texas from 1891 to 1895, will be considered for re-installation at another campus site, he added.

“The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history,” Fenves said Sunday. “But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”

"We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus," he added.

The school removed statues of Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from campus back in 2015 after a deadly mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Other Confederate monuments are being removed around the country under pressure from those who consider them symbols of racism and white supremacy.

Four Confederate-era monuments were removed last week in Baltimore, Maryland, and the governors of Virginia and North Carolina requested the removal of Confederate monuments in their states.

President Donald Trump, however, has pushed back against removing the Confederate symbols, calling it "changing history."

“This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said in a press conference last week.

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