AUSTIN, Texas – A statue of the president of the secessionist pro-slavery southern states was removed from its pedestal Sunday on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, days after a court rejected an appeal from a Confederate heritage group.
Crews were seen removing the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its place near the university's iconic clock tower. Davis led the Confederacy of southern states during the 1861-65 Civil War.
Davis' statue will eventually be displayed in the Briscoe Center history museum on campus, which university officials said is a more appropriate place for it. The Briscoe Center has one of the nation's largest archives on slavery.
The statue has been a target of vandalism as well as criticism that it is a symbol of racism and discrimination. Confederate symbols nationwide are being re-considered following the recent mass shooting of members of a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"This is an iconic moment," said Gregory Vincent, the university's vice president for diversity and community engagement, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "It really shows the power of student leadership."
A judge last week ruled against the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which sued to stop the university from moving it.
Statues of other Confederate figures — Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate Postmaster General John H. Reagan — will remain in their places on campus.
University officials halted earlier plans to move the Davis statue after the Sons of Confederate Veterans asked a judge to stop them. The Confederate group compared the proposal to relocate the statue to the Islamic State group destroying artifacts in the Middle East.
But State District Judge Karin Crump ruled last week that Texas officials have the authority under state law to decide where the statue should stand.