univ texas confederate statue KXAN-TV
Worker remove Confederate statues from the University of Texas campus in Austin.

University of Texas president sued over removal of Confederate statues from campus

Suit says university's decision earlier this week to remove 4 statues violates a 1920s agreement with a donor.

University of Texas president Gregory L. Fenves is being sued over his decision to remove Confederate statues from the campus in Austin.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that a relative of Major George Washington Littlefield says that the removal violates an agreement the university had with Littlefield, who donated money and land to the school in the 1920s in return for honoring his request that the university promote the “Southern perspective of American history.”

Fenves ordered earlier this week that four statues displayed on campus — including three of Confederate figures — be taken down. Fenves' directive came in response to the deadly protest of a Confederate statue removal in Charlottesville, Va.

Patti Ohlendorf, the university’s chief lawyer, says Fenves consulted with a number of people before making what he considered the best decision — namely, to remove the statues from the South Mall on campus. The decision was legally sound, she says.

The statues that Fenves ordered to be taken down honor Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan, and James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Kirk Lyons, filed a similar lawsuit in 2015 seeking to bar Fenves from removing the statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and of former President Woodrow Wilson. A judge denied Lyons’ request for a restraining order, and the university took down the statues days later.

The Davis statue was moved to a museum on campus; the Wilson statue is in storage.

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