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Saturday, December 3, 2016

(Reuters) — The statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis was moved from its prominent place on the University of Texas campus in Austin on Sunday, according to footage published on social media and by local Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

Crews could be seen in the images and videos wrapping the larger-than-life bronze figure and using a large forklift to remove it from its pedestal.

The university said the figure would be refurbished and moved to an exhibit in the school’s Briscoe Center for American History within the next 18 months.

The southern Confederacy seceded from the United States, in large part to defend the practice of slavery, prompting the bloody 1861-65 U.S. Civil War.

A wave of opposition to the display of Confederate symbols in public places swept the United States after nine black people were murdered in a South Carolina church on June 17 by a white man who was pictured on social media with the Confederate battle flag.

The campus has several monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders, which will remain on public display, due in large part to a wealthy benefactor named George Washington Littlefield, who fought in the Civil War with “Terry’s Texas Rangers.”

Littlefield donated money to the university on the stipulation that the Southern heritage of Texas be preserved. The University of Texas at Austin opened in 1883.

A statue of Woodrow Wilson, the nation’s 28th president, was also removed from its location on Sunday, though its new home has not yet been determined, according to the school.

University of Texas President Gregory Fenves said earlier this month that the figure would be removed to “preserve the symmetry” of the main mall area where the statues stood.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Photo: Jefferson Davis statue at the University of Texas, Austin campus. Keith Ewing via Flickr.