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Racist Rocks: The Renewed Effort To Preserve Jim Crow Era Statues

David Spiller’s bill protecting racist monuments is a direct attack on marginalized communities.

Representative David Spiller’s recent bill, HB 1512, relates to the removal, relocation, alteration, or construction of certain monuments, memorials, or designations on public property. This bill is a direct attack on the Black community in Gainesville and a slap in the face to all who have fought tirelessly to remove racist odes to white supremacy, such as the confederate monument on the Cooke County courthouse lawn.

The bill, introduced in the Texas House of Representatives, would make it harder for cities and counties to remove statues and monuments that honor the Confederacy and other racist figures from public spaces. Under the bill, any monument or memorial located on municipal or county property for at least 25 years can only be removed, relocated, or altered by a supermajority vote of the governing body. In addition, monuments or memorials that have been in place for less than 25 years can only be removed, relocated, or altered by a simple majority vote of the governing body.

A slap in the face.

In 2020, the Black community in Gainesville protested and fought tirelessly to remove the confederate monument on the courthouse lawn. The passage on the statue reads, “Oh, home of tears, but let her bear this blazoned to the end of time; No nation rose so pure and fair, none fell so pure of crime.” The passage is an obvious ode to white supremacy.

David Spiller is the Texas House representative over House District 68, which includes Gainesville. The fact that he would introduce a bill that makes it harder for the community he represents to remove symbols of white supremacy clearly indicates that there are still those in power who are not interested in listening to the voices of marginalized communities.

The fact that Spiller’s bill would make it harder for these symbols of white supremacy to be removed is a obvious sign that he does not care about the well-being of Black and brown communities and he is more interested in protecting symbols of the past, rather than working towards a more just and equitable future.

The gerrymandered Texas House District 68 map perfectly shows how racists like David Spiller get elected into office.

What does the bill say?

At the heart of the bill is a provision that would make it significantly more difficult to remove or alter Confederate monuments and statues erected on public property. Under the bill, monuments that have been in place for at least 25 years can only be removed or altered by a supermajority vote of the governing body of the municipality or county in which they are located. For monuments that have been in place for less than 25 years, the governing body would have complete discretion to remove or alter them as they see fit.

This provision is particularly egregious given the historical context in which these monuments were erected. All Confederate monuments were erected during the Jim Crow era when Black Americans were systematically denied their fundamental civil rights and subjected to racist violence and oppression. These statues were not erected to honor the sacrifices of soldiers or to commemorate historical events but rather as a reminder to Black Americans of their place in society and a symbol of white supremacy.

The rural counties Spiller represents, which still have Confederate statues on their courthouse lawns, include Cooke, Montague, Throckmorton, Eastland, Comanche, and Mills.

The presence of these racist rocks on courthouse lawns, parks, and other public spaces sends a clear message to Black residents that they will not receive equal justice in that county. It is a reminder that the system is rigged against them and that they are not truly equal citizens in the eyes of the state.

The bill also creates a Historical Representation Advisory Committee that would provide advice and guidance to the State Preservation Board on adding and removing monuments in the Capitol Complex.

This committee would consist of 12 members appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House, with the goal of including representatives of different racial and ethnic groups. But in reality, this committee is nothing more than a fig leaf to cover up the bill’s real intent, which is to preserve the status quo of white supremacy.

David Spiller’s bill is a thinly veiled attempt to preserve the racist symbols of the past.

This bill is not only an attack on the Black community in Gainesville but on all marginalized communities who continue to be impacted by the racist symbols of the past. It is clear that there are still those in power who are more interested in preserving a false and harmful version of history than in ensuring equal justice for all.

The fact that Representative Spiller, who represents the very community that fought to remove this racist monument, would introduce a bill to protect it and similar monuments is a profound betrayal. It sends a message that the voices and experiences of Black residents in Gainesville do not matter and that the pain and trauma caused by these odes to white supremacy are insignificant.

And make no mistake. These monuments are not simply benign symbols of a bygone era. Instead, they are powerful reminders of the systemic racism and oppression that has shaped this country and continues to shape it today. Having a Jim Crow-era statue on a courthouse lawn sends a clear signal to Black residents that they will not have equal justice in that county. It tells them that the institutions supposed to protect and serve them are steeped in a legacy of racism and oppression.

It is long past time for these symbols of hate to be removed and for the country to confront the true history of slavery, racism, and oppression that they represent.

This bill is a step backward and a cruel reminder of how far we still have to go in the fight for racial justice. We cannot let the voices of marginalized communities be silenced and their pain is ignored. We must stand with the Black community in Gainesville and reject this attack on their and all marginalized communities’ right to dignity and equality.

Feel free to call David Spiller and voice your opinion about his racist bill. (512) 463-0526

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