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LPR Year in review 2020: Discussion on racial injustice reaches Caldwell County

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COVID was the dominating story of the year, but the killing of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer once again brought the topic of racial injustice to the forefront.

Following the May 25th killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, protesters took to the streets of nearly every major American city. Many were peaceful during the daytime but turned violent at night.

Unlike in years past, the protests finally reached Caldwell County.

Lockhart resident Margaret Carter organized a peaceful protest on June 13th that marched from the Caldwell County Courthouse to the Caldwell County Justice Center. Lockhart Police Chief Ernesto Pedraza, along with several other officers, joined the march to show solidarity with the community. The march, which had over 100 people, never got out of hand or became violent.

The national protests began discussion around the nation regarding Confederate monuments. Lockhart resident Cody Kimbell petitioned the Commissioner’s Court to remove the Confederate monument in front of the Courthouse.

The first hearing was held on June 9th, drawing plenty of comments from both sides. The court agreed to form a citizens advisory committee that would give a final recommendation.

A nine-member committee was formed and on July 28th recommended the monument be moved to the Caldwell County Jail Museum with a plaque next to it that contextualizes it. The court passed a formal resolution on August 11th.

Because the monument was paid for with private funds at its installation, the resolution noted that private funds instead of tax dollars will pay for the removal and relocation.

On August 18th the monument was vandalized, and a $1,000 reward was put up by the Commissioner’s Court to help find the culprit. The Lockhart Police Department searched for a suspect but did not make any arrests.

On November 10th the Commissioner’s Court approved the final draft of the procurement document to receive bids. The bid was posted for four weeks and on December 12th the lone bid came in at $29,600.

There was an agenda item to discuss extending the bid for another 30 days at the December 29th Commissioner’s Court, something Cody Kimbell asked for on December 17th, according to an email in the court packet. But with Judge Haden and Commissioner Joe Roland both absent, Purchasing Agent Danie Blake recommended tabling the item until the next scheduled meeting.

“I think that Dani’s advice should be heeded since we are missing two members of the court today, and given the history of this item,” Commissioner B.J. Westmoreland said.

The motion was tabled until January 12, 2021 by a unanimous 3-0 vote.  

Once the court accepts the bids, all vendors, the bid document, and an application for a permit are sent to the Texas Historical Commission for approval. If the THC accepts the vendor, they will issue a permit.

The County would need to secure funds from the party requesting the move prior to formally awarding the contract to the vendor.  

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