Let the statues fall! The racist past of the Texas Rangers
Until June 4, Ranger Captain Jay Banks greeted tourists arriving in Dallas with the usual motto: "One riot, one ranger." But now the truth is out.
There's no way to bury the past, not even under a statue. Sooner or later, the truth, especially if it's terrible, comes out.
On June 4, the day was clear in Dallas, Texas — a day to overthrow old heroes who weren't so great. The 12-foot statue of historic Texas Ranger Captain Jay Banks, located at the Dallas airport, began to pulsate. Beneath it were mile-long secrets about Banks and the Rangers that writer Doug J. Swanson has uncovered as a water-seeking, septic-cavity dunce in his book, Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers. Secrets, it has to be said, that forced local officials to reach for their heads at a time when the United States is experiencing its own Arab Spring. Or African-American Spring. Or Latino Spring. Or Native American Spring. Anything that's not WASP.
"It was long overdue," said the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Domingo Garcia, when they removed the statue. Garcia had already tried hard in the early 1990s, when he was a member of Dallas City Council. The plan then was to put up the effigy of the great civil rights leader, Adelfa Callejo in his place, but there was no way, so Callejo's statue was installed in another location while Banks' was still in the same place, arrogant and stony. But few knew then that it symbolized a historical shame: the stony and destructive arm of the law that hangs over black and brown communities.
"The statues of the Texas Rangers have been used as icons, not only as a memorial, but also to nullify and destabilize civil rights movements," historian Monica Muñoz Martinez told NBC.
Martinez had published a book a couple of years ago exploring ranger violence against Mexican-Americans and advocated that effigies like Banks's, which greeted tourists arriving in Dallas since 1963 until a week ago, were erected to intimidate racial minorities.
It is not the only one. They are all over Texas, including the Terry Rangers monument, a Confederate regiment that has stood in front of the Capitol since 1907.
"Banks is a disturbing figure to be revered," the historian added, as the image of the Ranger captain swallows dust in a warehouse and city hall sources point say they knew nothing about the "hijacking" of the statue.
But why is Jay Banks, a protector of the law, an honorable member of the Texas Independent Police Force, so "disturbing?" According to Swanson's recently published book, the history of the Rangers is littered with racial incidents, which includes the role of Banks, who instead of making it easy for Black students in Dallas to enroll in a high school and community college in East Texas, did the opposite. He swept them away.