Debate rising over future of Confederate statue at Sam Houston Park

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Spurred on by calls from the public, Mayor Sylvester Turner has agreed to begin a full review of Confederacy-related statues on Houston public lands.

The announcement came as the future of the "Spirit of Confederacy" statue became the focus of a growing debate.

It was 109 years ago when the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated the "Spirit of the Confederacy" statue in downtown Houston.

"The existence of confederate symbols on city property celebrates evil actions rather than denouncing them," said Christina Gorczynski, one of several speakers at Houston City Council who urged Mayor Sylvester Turner to remove the statue.

"In our public spaces, we should not have something that honor the spirit of the Confederacy," said Robert Icsezen, another speaker.

WATCH: 5 facts about the Spirit of the Confederacy

However, others do not want the statue to go anywhere. Sally, who only wanted us to use her first name, had a great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War. And she says his fight wasn't about slavery.

"Very few people in the South even owned slaves," she said, pointing out her ancestors were Southerners but not slave owners. "It's been blown out of proportion."

Sally has researched the statue's history extensively, and believes the best option is to add other monuments in Sam Houston Park that could give proper context about the war.

"Build other statues, don't destroy what's there. Build other history, explain everything. Don't destroy everything, it happened," she said.

Turner announced during the City Council Public Session that his staff is reviewing all city statues, and will make a decision on the best path forward. The number of Confederacy-related ones is believed to be only in the "single digits," according to the Mayor's Office.

"History has its good, history has its bad, but I do think it's important for us to review our inventory, and to make the appropriate decision," said Turner.

Meantime, conservative radio talk show host Michael Berry urged Turner to focus on other things.

"Houstonians are not concerned about monuments. They want drivable streets and they want safe streets and all of this nonsense in divisive," Berry said.

No date has been set for action on the issue.

Report a typo to the ABC13 staff