The McKinney City Council voted 4-3 to postpone discussing the fate of the James W. Throckmorton statue that sits in the square of the city’s downtown area.
Considered a settler of McKinney and community founder, Throckmorton died in McKinney and is buried at Pecan Grove Cemetery. He led Texas troops as a brigadier-general for the Confederate Army during the Civil War and served as governor of Texas from 1866-1867 until he was removed under the Reconstruction Acts, according to a previous article in the McKinney Courier-Gazette.
On Tuesday, the City Council was slated to consider, discuss and act on research and findings of a statue ad hoc advisory board that was created in July. The board held three meetings to discuss the statue.
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Assistant Planning Director Mark Doty said the majority of the almost 1,800 McKinney residents who responded to a September survey regarding the statue preferred keeping the statue in its current spot.
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In October, when the City Council heard a similar presentation from Doty and heard two opposing opinions from advisory board members on what should be done with the statue.
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During Tuesday’s meeting, two speakers spoke in favor of removing the statue and one spoke against. Former interim City Councilman Chris Thornton said it was time for the statue to go.
“It stands as a stark reminder to me, and to many of us of color, of what it used to be and what America used to think of us,” he said.
Councilman Frederick Frazier made the motion to table the item and said he still had questions. He also said the topic was a “lightning rod,” a sentiment echoed by other City Council members.
“That statue’s been there for over 100 years,” Frazier later said. “If we take a few more months, or however long we take to get to the end of that road, that’s not going to make a big difference, is it? But we can get to the end of the road together. And that’s the thing that’s going to make the difference.”
Mayor Pro Tem Rainey Rogers and Councilmen Charlie Philips and Rick Franklin said they agreed with tabling the item.
Councilwoman Angela Richardson-Woods disagreed.
“We’ve done all the research,” she said. “How much more research, how many more questions, how many more meetings do we have to have when we have all the information that we have?”
Councilman Scott Elliott said he was against tabling the item out of respect for Richardson-Woods, and Mayor George Fuller said he was in favor of deciding on the issue that day.
“This is something that is absolutely a divisive subject, and it will be responded to in May. And I know that,” Fuller said, “but I also know that sometimes we’ve got to make really tough decisions.”
Fuller later said that there was tremendous pressure regarding the decision and said the issue had become politicized when it shouldn’t have anything to do with politics.
“This is something we’re going to have to deal with, and we will deal with it,” he said. “I hope that the community gets more ready to deal with this in the spirit and the light that we should deal with it. Not politically. Not disrespectfully. Not ‘us versus them.’”
Liz McGathey contributed to this report