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University of Texas removes four Confederate statues

Texas university president says Confederate statues are used by white supremacists as symbolism for hatred and bigotry.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis

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A university in the US state of Texas is removing the statues of four figures tied to the Confederacy from a main area in campus, the school's president confirmed on Sunday, saying such monuments have become "symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism".

"Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation," Greg Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement.

"These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism," he added.

The university moved a statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its perch near the campus clock tower to a history museum in 2015.

Fenves said statues of Robert L. Lee, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate Postmaster General John H. Reagan also must be moved.

Lee led the pro-slavery Confederacy's army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.

The school will also move a statue of former Texas governor James Stephen Hogg, which was commissioned at the same time as the others, a spokesman said. Hogg will get another place on campus.

The debate over public memorials for Confederate figures roared into national conversation last week after one person was killed in a clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A growing number of US political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy.

Civil rights activists charge that they promote racism while advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.

Fenves said that the historical and cultural significance of Confederate statues on campus - in addition to the connections that individuals associate with them - "are severely comprised by what they symbolise."

"Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans," he said. "That remains true today for white supremacists that use them to symbolise hatred and bigotry."

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