"These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism," UT President Gregory L. Fenves wrote in a statement announcing the decision.
Three of the statues—those depicting Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and John Reagan—will be added to the collection of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, 2300 Red River St., Austin. The statue of James Hogg, governor of Texas from 1891 to 1895, may be relocated to another campus site.
In a statement, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, "Putting these statues in a history museum appropriately puts this past where it belongs."
The response on social media has been mostly positive, with students, parents and residents applauding the university's decision to remove the statues overnight so as to minimize the risk of violent demonstrations, such as the ones seen on the University of Virginia's campus earlier this month.
UT is getting rid of the statues pic.twitter.com/JrVHtZeeGL
— bailey troy (@funksocks) August 21, 2017
Kudos to UT for removing confederate statues. Hopefully the Cesar Chavez statue gets a more prominent location
— Diego (@DieCervantes) August 21, 2017
— Danielle Ortiz (@danielleAortiz) August 21, 2017
— Celina Moreno (@CelinaYMoreno) August 21, 2017
However, not everyone commended the university's decision. Some believe the statues were long overdue for removal, while others criticized the university's tactics as covert and political.
It took *the death of a white woman not even remotely connected to UT for Fenves to admit confederate symbols pose threats to Black students https://t.co/AnCGYkQgZ1
— pax j (@thepaxjones) August 21, 2017
Can anybody explain how tearing down old statues fixes anything or makes things better for all? #ReallWantToKnow
— Paulus Ut Venatorem (@UtVenatorem) August 17, 2017
Whatever happened to people voting on issues. Much seems to be done in the dark of night. Covert n controlling, for one side; the left.
— Alexi (@Brialalexi) August 21, 2017
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) August 21, 2017