HOUSTON -- Tensions were high as hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Houston Saturday afternoon demanding the removal of the Spirit of the Confederacy monument.
Crowds rallied at Sam Houston Park for the Destroy the Confederacy protest, calling the historic monument a "stain in the fabric of history that needs to be removed."
"We can no longer support or condone having Confederate monuments that positively reinforce white supremacists and also white privilege," said organizer Ashton P. Woods.
Thousands of people have already signed a petition in support of removing the statue, which became a fixture in Houston nearly 100 years ago.
Due to the possibility of violence, organizers asked that participants not bring any children.
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Rallies -- some violent -- erupted across the United States in recent weeks. One woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia for a racially-charged protest.
The Houston Police Department and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a clear message that such violence would not be tolerated in Houston. In addition, no one was allowed to go beyond the fence where the statue stands.
"As long as I am the police chief of Houston, Texas we will not tolerate criminal misconduct," said HPD Chief Art Acevedo. "We will not tolerate what happened in Charlottesville with people getting beat up."
While Black Lives Matters supporters want the statue taken down, counter-protesters disagree.
"If you're offended by the statue then I can tell you that the people standing here with me are offended that you want to tear down the statue," one masked man said.
For counter-protesters, the statue honors history. For others, the statue serves as a constant reminder of a time in our history when not all men were equal.
"It was erected to intimidate people who looked like me to reinforce racism; Jim Crow, lack of educational access, lack of access to healthcare back then,and to be honest with you, a lot things have not changed," a Black Lives Matter supporter said.
The mayor has asked for his staff to study the issue and give a recommendation before moving forward. Either way, one side will not be happy.