Richmond resident trying to take ownership of abandoned monument

A Richmond man is trying to assert ownership of a white-supremacist monument located adjacent to Richmond City Hall. The man claims the monument is now abandoned after years of confusion over which government entity actually owns it. 

The monument has been there since the late 1800s. City officials have pushed back saying the man has no claim to ownership.

The monument honors the lives of three members of the Jaybirds – a white supremacist political group, according to the Fort Bend History Association. At the monument's base in large signage are the words “our heroes.” 

"They were a white supremacist group who swore and came together that whites would always be the political power holders in Fort Bend County. For this racist monument to be on our grounds, is a slap in the face. And in Richmond, we still haven’t had an elected, black official," Tres Davis, a Richmond resident said.

Davis says the monument’s racist roots are offensive to the residents of Fort Bend-- one of the most diverse counties in the country.

For weeks, Davis has gone back and forth with city and county officials, hoping to assert ownership over the monument so it can be removed and donated to a museum.     

"Nobody owns it, so it’s abandoned. So, I’m like if it’s abandoned, how do you get rid of something that you don’t own that’s abandoned? Did some research on how you acquire abandoned property, I followed the proper protocols to do it," Davis said. 

Despite Davis’s efforts and multiple petitions filed by other residents calling For the monument to be removed, confusion over its ownership has delayed the decision. 

Authorities say because the monument sits on city-owned property, Richmond is in “constructive possession” of the monument.     

Richmond City Manager, Terri Vela, released a statement in response, “The City of Richmond is working with our county partners, community stakeholders, and private citizens in response to the request for the removal of the Obelisk, located adjacent to City Hall. Our City thrives on being a place where hate and racial prejudices will not be tolerated. Saying that, we encourage residents to take the survey as we continue to work with our community partners to find the best solution. Several individuals have come forward to claim ownership and have been found to have no factual basis for their claim. Our goal is to continue to preserve our history as an educational gateway, while being sensitive to all the members of our community of today and tomorrow." 

Davis says he’s not giving up just yet. 
"I believe that they are racist because my thought is this. If you’re not racist, why are you fighting so hard to keep a white supremacist monument on your grounds?" Davis said.  

The Fort Bend History Association has an online survey to get the public’s input on what to do with the Jaybird monument. The survey is open online and available to anyone until August 21.