Add the Texas Rangers to the list of iconic figures now being cast into the forbidden zone for past sins of racism.
The Rangers are the subject of an upcoming book, “Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers,” slated to be published on June 9. The author, Doug J. Swanson, was a longtime reporter at The Dallas Morning News before joining the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, the newspaper said.
An excerpt from the book ran recently in D magazine and caught the attention of several city officials, including the, according to an airport spokesman.
The Rangers have been an icon of law enforcement in the Lone State State and elsewhere for decades. The spokesman, Chris Perry, said officials were troubled by many anecdotes of racism and brutality in Mr. Swanson’s account, and he told the Morning News the 12-foot tall bronze statue had a “very rich and problematic backstory.”
The Ranger memorialized is Capt. Jay Banks, who supervised the Rangers that blocked integration of a Texas high school and community college under orders from then Gov. Allan Shivers in 1957, Mr. Swanson said. In a photo taken outside the high school, Mr. Banks is seen standing in front of a black figure hanging in effigy that the lawman made no attempt to remove.
The statue was titled, “One Riot. One Ranger.” The Rangers trace their history back to Stephen F. Austin in 1823, although the force was officially recognized in August 1835. The Rangers have long been a subject of literature and film, and last year the onetime Rangers who hunted down and killed Bonnie and Clyde were the subject of a Hollywood movie, “The Highwaymen.”
Still, the removal of the statue marks a new level in the ongoing revision of America’s public monument landscape that has accelerated since George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, died after Minneapolis police kneed on his neck and back for more than 8 minutes while arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill.
Most of the removed statues to date have a more explicitly racist pedigree, such as those of Confederate figures or anonymous Confederate soldiers whose marble figures have long dotted public spaces south of the Mason-Dixon line.
That process began long before Mr. Floyd’s death, which prompted the immediate firing and arrest of the Minneapolis cops involved, with second degree murder now filed against the main officer, Derek Chauvin. Since that horrifying incident was captured on video, cities have been rocked by protests that in some cases morphed into riots.
Monuments to often dubious figures became a target of protestors, and on May 31 a professor of Egyptian studies at the University of Alabama Birmingham, Sarah Parcak, tweeted a sketch of how protestors could topple obelisks.
Ms. Parcak singled out a 52-foot high obelisk dedicated to Confederate soldiers and sailors that had long stood in Birmingham’s Linn Park before officials took it down this week.
Neither that statue nor the bronze Ranger are slated for destruction, officials said. Mr. Perry said the Ranger would be put into storage, and Dallas‘ director of the Office of Arts and Culture said the city would re-evaluate all the memorials and monuments that comprise its public collection.
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