Dallas Rally Planned as Confederate Monument Debate Escalates

Faith leaders speak against Monuments

A rally is planned for Saturday evening in Dallas as the debate over what to do with Confederate monuments escalates across America.

The event set for 7:30 p.m. at Dallas City Hall Plaza is sponsored by a list of organizations that support diversity and oppose white supremacy.

"I think this is an opportunity for us to come together as a city, as a state and as a nation and do the right thing," said the Rev. Donald Parish, of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas.

Parish said Confederate monument supporters would be just as angry if they had been the victims of slavery.

"You would have these same people up in arms saying that we should not have these statues," Parish said.

The demonstration that turned deadly in Virginia last weekend was organized by white supremacy groups in support of Confederate monuments.

If counter-demonstrators appear and violence erupts at the Dallas rally Saturday, a city press release said police will be prepared with officers in the crowd and a quick-response team. The Dallas Emergency Operations Center will be operating to coordinate with other state and local law enforcement agencies in case Dallas police need additional support.

Neo-Nazis opposing Jews were among the demonstrators in Virginia.

"It was painful to watch, and I know that many of the Holocaust survivors are reliving this experience," said Rabbi Andrew Paley, of Temple Shalom in Dallas.

Mayor Mike Rawlings invited the Dallas Holocaust Museum to participate in a 90-day task force study he proposed Tuesday to develop policy for Dallas Confederate monuments.

Paley welcomed the Jewish community involvement after millions of Jews were killed by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

"That will never, ever happen to anybody else again," Paley said. "And that is a clarion call in the Jewish community. We will never forget. We will always remember, and we are somehow obligated."

Both Rabbi Paley and Rev. Parish agree the Dallas Confederate monuments at Pioneer Park downtown and Lee Park in Uptown should be removed.

Parish said it should not require 90 days of study to remove the statutes of Confederate leaders.

"No, I just think it takes a little careful thought," Parish said. "I certainly don't think that they need to be treated as heroes, because they were not."

Both religious leaders agree there might be some other place where the monuments could be moved that would include a more complete story about history.

"We are duty-bound to address that and take down those symbols or prevent those obstacles from being a part of the fabric of our community," Paley said.

But the rabbi said 90 days to hear from all sides in the debate might be appropriate.

"I do believe that rash thinking and knee-jerk reactions are not the best solutions to our problems," Paley said.

The Dallas mayor's task force plan is not final yet. The mayor said Tuesday he would talk with City Council members about it. Councilman Philip Kingston offered a competing plan that would bring the issue forward for a City Council vote sooner.

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