In yet a further escalation of the national battle over Confederate imagery, a group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans is suing the University of Texas over its decision to take down three Confederate statues.
Late Sunday night, Greg Fenves, the president of University of Texas, Austin ordered four statues be taken down, including three honoring Confederate leaders. The Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said this order was illegal on the basis that it violated their free speech rights because there was no public discussion before the decision was made.
The group also argues that the University of Texas broke an agreement it made with UT regent and Confederate veteran George Littlefield, who paid for the statue of himself before his death in 1920. The group has teamed up with a descendant of Littlefield to sue the university.
"The statues were part of a bequest Maj. Littlefield made to the university that included funds for the promotion of American history from the Southern perspective," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleged that the decision broke state law requiring lawmakers and historians to be involved in any modification of state monuments.
A spokesman for UT-Austin told the Dallas Morning News that the university's "lawyers carefully studied the relocation of the statues, which was handled appropriately."
The national debate over Confederate statues was fired up after a horrific attack during a "Unite the Right" protest earlier this month over a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio with white supremacist ties, allegedly rammed his car into left-wing counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring many others.
Some Democrats and other critics of the president have taken the occasion to accuse President Donald Trump of having racist attitudes because of the nature of his comments about the event that appeared to lay the blame equally on the left-wing protesters as well as the far-right white nationalists.