At the June 23 meeting of the Beaumont City Council, the elected officials voted to remove the unnamed Confederate soldier statue erected at Wiess Park.
Council members Audwin Samuel and Randy Feldschau placed the matter on the agenda, asking for the statue to be removed and stored.
“You say culture, some say slavery,” Samuel said of what the statue represents. “What I see is black men hanging in trees – and that was ok.”
Recess was called when tempers flared as Samuel became irate at the notion that others would have the statue stay with a disclaimer.
Councilman Mike Getz agreed, in part, with Samuel’s assertion.
“The language on that base is offensive to me,” Getz said, referencing wording that called the Confederacy’s stance on the cause as “just.”
“The south built their economy on the backs of slaves,” Getz said, denouncing glorification of the Confederacy. “I can’t imagine anyone that would support that.
“I don’t doubt the Beaumont boys that went and fought were brave. But, their cause was not ‘just.’”
Instead of removing the statue, however, Getz offered a suggestion to change the message at the statue’s base to reflect historical merit and a disclaimer “as a solemn reminder for Americans to come together for the common cause of their community and the country.”
“United we stand, divided we fall,” and “E pluribus unum” (translated: out of many, one) would better serve as written word to pass on to future generations, Getz argued.
“I have no intent of erasing history, but every day history is created,” Samuel said. “My intent was not to destroy the statue, because history belongs in museums sometimes.” Samuel’s intent, he said, was an “amicable resolution to this issue.”
“In the end,” he said, “we will all be accountable in some way for our decisions today.”
Getz was the only “no” vote to the statue’s removal. City Manager Kyle Hayes estimates the cost to take down and store the statue at $15,000.