Dallas

Texas Ranger Statue at Love Field Removed Over Concerns About Racist History

The fate of the statue, which will go into storage for now, would eventually be decided by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture

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A fixture at Dallas Love Field has been hauled away to storage.

Airport officials decided to remove the iconic statue of a Texas Ranger after a recently published excerpt from an upcoming book and image of the Ranger depicted in the sculpture came to light.

The decision was made on Wednesday, according to airport spokesperson Chris Perry.

NBC 5's media partners at the Dallas Morning News captured the removal early Thursday morning.

The over 12-foot tall brass sculpture depicting Texas Ranger Jay Banks captioned ‘One Riot, One Ranger’ has welcomed travelers at Dallas Love Field since the early 1960s, until today.

The figure was secured by slings and carefully removed from its pedestal after its past caught up with it.

“Jay Banks was involved in efforts in 1957 to keep black children out of a white school,” said author Doug J. Swanson. “Ranger Banks was only following orders but he was the face of resistance to integration in Mansfield in 1957.”

Swanson’s book ‘Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers’ will be released next week.

It reveals a sometimes-racist past for the law enforcement agency, including but not limited to episodes of police brutality and racism against Blacks and Mexicans in Texas.

“This is a problem that goes back a long way and the Rangers were involved in it,” said Swanson. “I didn’t set out to do a hatchet job on the Rangers, I’m trying to do a complete history of the Rangers.”

Swanson’s research turned up an infamous photograph reportedly depicting Ranger Banks in 1957 Mansfield.

“He is leaning against a tree looking very relaxed and to his left hanging from the entrance from Mansfield High School is a black figure hanging, an effigy and the Rangers made no effort to take that down,” he said. “Again, the Rangers were there on orders of Governor Allan Shivers to keep black children out of the all-white public high school and that’s what they did.”

The airport’s spokesperson tells NBC 5: ‘A recently published excerpt from a forthcoming book and image of the Ranger depicted in the sculpture led to OAC and DAL deciding the sculpture should be relocated to storage until a broader community dialogue about its display in a prominent location can take place. The sculpture was a donation to the city in 1963 when policies requiring the extensive review of public art donations were not in place.’

“I was surprised,” said Swanson of the statue’s removal. “I wasn’t consulted. I have very mixed feelings about it. I think it’s really important for the history of the statue to be known.”

Grassroots Dallas activist group Mothers Against Police Brutality welcomes the removal.

“I think it never should have been up in the first place,” said Sara Mokuria of the group. “It’s a day late but I’m grateful that it’s coming down.”

Mokuria points to other hurtful symbols of ‘oppression’ in the city including the Confederate monument in Pioneer Cemetery. Removing this monument continues to be tied up in a legal battle.

“We still also have 30% of the streets in the city of Dallas named after Confederate soldiers and Confederate generals so we have a lot of work to do in this city,” she said.

The once towering figure in Love Field is now in storage, as a city facing new unrest considers its future.

The city's Office of Arts and Culture tells NBC 5 it will work with the city council to consider what to do with the statue.

It is possible it could be sold at auction much like the Robert E. Lee statue was sold.

Swanson points to other controversial artistic depictions that were not removed, but instead had contextual information added to educate visitors.

“I think it’s far more important to provide historical context,” he said.

But Mokuria argues, “That is part of history. We will always tell that history but we do not have monuments of Hitler around the world reminding us that there was a Holocaust.”

NBC 5 asked both Dallas Love Field and the city’s Office of Arts and Culture how much the removal cost and if taxpayer money was used.

‘I don’t have the cost, but it did come from our enterprise budget (no taxpayer expense) and not through the general operating fund,’ according to Perry.

NBC 5 reached out to the Texas Rangers within the Department of Public Safety for comment on the removal.

A DPS spokesperson released a statement saying:

‘The department is aware that the city of Dallas has elected to remove a Texas Ranger statue from the Love Field Airport, which they have the authority to do. We remain committed to the mission of protecting and serving the community and people of Dallas.’

Click here to read more from our partners at The Dallas Morning News.

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