(Reuters) - The University of Texas at Austin is removing the statues of four figures tied to the Confederacy, the school’s president said on Sunday, saying they had become symbols of white supremacy.
White nationalists and counterprotesters clashed this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and one woman was killed when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racism demonstrators.
The violence triggered the biggest domestic crisis yet for President Donald Trump, who provoked anger across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the fight.
“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” school president Greg Fenves said in a statement.
“These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
A growing number of U.S. political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy. Civil rights activists charge that they promote racism while advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.
The four statues which University of Texas at Austin is removing from its main mall include one of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.
The Lee statue will be moved to the school’s Briscoe Center for American History, where it will be accessible for scholarly study, Fenves said.
Last weekend, white nationalists converged in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Lee at a park.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Macfie