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UT Delays Moving Jefferson Davis Statue After Request for Restraining Order

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson/Texas Tribune
The Jefferson Davis statue on the Main Mall of the UT campus.

The University of Texas at Austin is postponing plans to begin the removal of statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and President Woodrow Wilson from the school's Main Mall.

UT confirms the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a request Friday for a temporary restraining order to block the statues' removal, which had been planned for Saturday. 

The request was drafted by Kirk Lyons, an attorney representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“Those statues are protected by the Monument Protection Act of 2001," Lyons says. "And the University of Texas can’t touch them, expect for essential repairs or maintenance and/or they have to go through either the Legislature, the Texas Historical Commission or the Capitol Preservation Board.”

He says both sides have agreed to delay the removal to allow a judge to review the request next week. 

“We had to serve the University of Texas, which was done late in the afternoon. And, you know, on Friday everybody wants to go home. I was probably the only lawyer in Austin working today; everybody else tries to flee the jurisdiction and go off the wherever they go off on the weekend. And so the court decided that, look, you know, it’s late, let’s – you guys make an agreement that, you know, you’re not going to touch the statues until we can have a hearing next week, so that’s what we agreed to. We did it by email with attorneys for the University of Texas, and so we will argue our temporary restraining order by Wednesday or Thursday of next week.”

Background on the decision to move the statues is here.

The plan had been to start the relocation process Saturday morning.

Here's the school's full statement:

The University of Texas at Austin will not be relocating the statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson on Saturday, Aug. 15, as initially planned. In response to a request for a temporary restraining order that was filed in state district court Friday afternoon, the university has agreed to wait to move the statues until a court has a chance to review this matter next week. Universities have the discretion under state law to relocate statues on their campuses. President Fenves' decision to move the Jefferson Davis statue to UT's Briscoe Center for American History is both the right course forward and consistent with the law. We are confident we will move ahead with these plans.

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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