Sons of Confederate Veterans continues petition for Jefferson Davis statue’s return

Matthew Adams

Although the Jefferson Davis statue was removed from the Main Mall Aug. 30, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are still fighting for the statue to be returned to campus.

A hearing held in the district court Aug. 27 determined the Davis and Woodrow Wilson statues could be removed because the court did not have jurisdiction over what UT decided to do with the statues. However, Kirk Lyons, an attorney representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans, filed a petition Aug. 31 after the statues had already been removed.

Lyons said they are currently working to speed up the process for the case to be heard in the state’s 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana, Texas.

“The law is very clear, and this new judge made a mistake,” Lyons said. “When you are David and not Goliath, you get justice at the appeals level. It is not uncommon, and that is why they have appeals courts.”

University spokesman Gary Susswein said the court has not determined a date for when the brief is to be submitted, but Lyons said after speaking with the clerk at the Court of Appeals, the brief is due Nov. 6.

At the Court of Appeals, Lyons said all of the information the Sons of Confederate Veterans presented in district court would be reviewed.  

“We go with the record we have, unless we win and it goes back to the district court,” Lyons said. “We have a good shot to win in the Court of Appeals. The well-settled law is on our side.”

Rohit Mandalapu, Student Government vice president, said there could be an endless list of appeals for them, but all will have the same result.

“It’s an issue that has been dealt with, and honestly, I’m surprised that it’s still an issue,” Mandalapu said. “They don’t have a case, which is why they didn’t win the first time around.”   

Despite the removal of the statues, Lyons said the Sons of Confederate Veterans are considering making UT President Gregory Fenves a smaller version of the Davis statue.

“We are looking into an art print and a desk size statue for Greg,” Lyons said.

David McDonald, former president of the UT Black Student Association, said with other racial discussions the University is having, this one is unnecessary because of the lack of interest from UT.

“If the students aren’t leading the initiative to bring the statues back onto the Main Mall, then the statues shouldn’t be on campus,” McDonald said. “I’m more than confident that our administration is able to make the best decision for our campus, [and] outside people should not be making the decisions.”