Hundreds protest Confederate statue in Houston

Sunday, August 20, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With a large police presence -- including HPD helicopters above, mounted patrol with horses wearing gear to protect their eyes should tear gas be used, and a lot of officers monitoring -- a two-sided protest unfolded outside the park where a 109-year-old statue has become a lightning rod.

The Spirit of the Confederacy statue was dedicated in 1908 at Sam Houston Park near city hall by the Daughters of the Confederacy. In the aftermath of last weekend's deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Confederate statues have been protested as living symbols of racism.

HPD estimated the number of demonstrators calling for the statue's removal at about 400. Those who wanted the statue to remain were estimated at about 65, according to an assistant police chief monitoring the event.

VIDEO: HPD on Spirit of the Confederacy demonstrations

Houston police officials recap the day's protests surrounding a Confederate monument in downtown Houston.

The crowd was separated by barricades, with about 100 feet of space between them. At one point, shouts and taunts were exchanged, but there were no physical confrontations, according to police.

That's in contrast to a heated protest in Boston focused on hate speech. Police there moved in wearing riot gear to separate the crowds.

"There were passionate words on both sides, sometimes words you don't want to hear, but they obeyed the law and cooperated with us," Assistant HPD Chief L.G. Satterwhite said.

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No arrests were reported, but three people were treated for heat exhaustion by paramedics.

The protest lasted for about two hours, and both sides left with banners, flags and signs.

The fate of the statute has not been decided. Mayor Sylvester Turner, acting on a petition asking for its removal, said the city will study its inventory of statues on public property linked to the Civil War and study the issue before making a decision. Some suggest the statues should be placed in museums.

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