On Tuesday afternoon, McKinney City Council officially laid out their plan for how the ad hoc advisory board concerning the placement of the James W. Throckmorton statue currently in downtown McKinney will proceed after the board’s third and final meeting last week.
The council members made their decision during a special session, one that opened with discussions on recruiting companies who will bring in jobs to the city and McKinney’s national reputation as a profitable place for business and economic growth. Reputation, they concluded, was important to establishing McKinney’s international standing. There were two public comments made, however, and neither concerned the city’s economic future. Both concerned Throckmorton’s statue, and both advocated for it to be moved out of the downtown square.
The public will be able to submit comments online until September 25, at which time the McKinney city staff will put together a full packet of information for the board and council members. At this time, more than 1,800 people have submitted comments.
The board will have two weeks to review it and prepare their two written presentations, each one proposing an opinion from board members on what should be done with the statue. Board members will present their two recommendations to the council no later than October 7.
Originally, the board was not meant to provide a response to public comments, but the decision to allow them a say came after council members saw the emotional toll discussing the statue was taking on the public and the board itself. Opinions have been both passionate and informed enough that they felt the board should have a chance to speak.
“What is the heart of allowing the statue to remain where it is? … Does it matter to you at all that someone is hurt by that statue?” one woman asked during the special council meeting, pointing out that no one wanted to destroy the statue; they simply want to move it.
A few months ago, the petition “Remove the McKinney, Tx Confederate Statue” appeared on Change.org. (1,832 people have signed the petition as of this writing.)
“James W. Throckmorton was not the worst confederate to come out of Texas, but he was a poltroon,” wrote Savannah Jordan, who started the petition. “He was given many opportunities to fight with the Union for the freedom of all men, but he was only looking out for himself. We, as McKinney citizens, will not have our city defined by a coward who was ultimately removed from office because of his racist policies. Please stand with us to ensure that this statue is removed and we send a message to future generations that we recognize and condemn the atrocious past of the confederates.”
Shortly after the petition appeared online, McKinney City Council formed the ad hoc advisory board to determine the statue’s fate.
At their final meeting Thursday, the board was divided, with five members choosing to recommend moving the statue, represented by Justin Beller, and six recommending it remain in McKinney square, represented by Judge Nathan White.
Jimmy Stewart, the board chair, summed up Judge White’s side at the first meeting when he said, “At some point in a free society there are some things we’ll be offended by and that’s part of being free. You can’t satisfy everyone.”
The board has two weeks to prepare their presentations to give to the council.