AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas is being sued for removing four Confederate statues from the main area of campus in Austin.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans filed the lawsuit Wednesday, three days after the statues were quickly taken down following a late-night order from University President Greg Fenves.
Three of the statues are of Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan, and Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. The fourth is of former governor James Stephen Hogg, who was the son of a Confederate veteran.
Fenves said while the university aims to preserve and study history, it must also acknowledge when history runs counter to the university's core values.
"Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African-Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry," Fenves said.
The removals followed the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The school said the three statues of Confederate military and political leaders will be moved to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Hogg's statute may be re-installed at a different campus location, Fenves said.
The statues were paid for by former University of Texas regent and Confederate veteran George Littlefield in 1920. The lawsuit argues the school broke its agreement with Littlefield by removing the statues. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Steven Littlefield, a relative of George Littlefield.
George Littlefield donated money and land to the school with the request that the university promote the "Southern perspective of American history."
"The university agreed to communicate political speech in perpetuity. Now, however, Pres. Fenves has breached the university's promise to communicate minority political speech," the lawsuit said.
A university spokesman said the school's lawyers had carefully considered the decision.
The association unsuccessfully sued the university in 2015 to stop the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.