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Saturday protesters to Alamo planners, 'Come and take it'

by Jolene AlmendarezJul 28, 2018

For roughly 150 people who protested in front of the Alamo Cenotaph Saturday morning, they are modern-day defenders of Texas history.

“This ground was bought and paid for by the blood of Texans, and we will fight until the bitter end to protect it,” said Brandon Burkhart, president of This is Texas Freedom Force (TTFF), which opposes a plan that would relocate the Cenotaph to another location on the plaza. “Come and take it.”

In front of him, people who embody Texas in cowboy boots and hats waved picket signs and cheered. They, like Burkhart, say they have been left out of the public input process.

The Alamo interpretive plan — a joint effort by the city, the Texas General Land Office and the Alamo Endowment — suggests moving the Cenotaph about 500 feet south to a spot in front of the Menger Hotel. Planners say the move is necessary to enable clear views of the Alamo as people approach the plaza, and is part of an effort to recreate most of the compound’s circa-1836 footprint.

At a rally on Saturday, John Kimple (left) and Todd Key hold signs protesting a plan that would move the Alamo Cenotaph to another location on the plaza. Photos by V. Finster | San Antonio Heron

Last week, District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño said that while moving the Cenotaph was not an option, planners could compromise on other issues presented in the plan, such as re-routing the Battle of Flowers Parade. During a public meeting in August, a modified plan will be presented to the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee, a 28-member group that weighs in on the proposal.

Critics say Treviño’s statement is proof the city did not intend to consider people’s concerns about moving the Cenotaph.

“This is our headstone,” said Lee Spencer White, president of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, whose fourth-great-grandfather died at the famous battle. “This is our cemetery. So you're going to tell me that you don’t like the view anymore?”

Tim Anderson, a descendant of defender Andrew Kent, added, “If you went to a cemetery and moved someone’s headstone, whether their body was there, would their family be upset? Absolutely. So why shouldn't we be?”

In a city-endorsed online market research survey, 2,068 people were asked about their preference to “Repair/restore The Alamo Cenotaph, add names of missing Defenders, relocate the Cenotaph to a prominent location outside the historic mission footprint, visible from the Church.”

Results show 63 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, 31 percent were neutral, and 6 percent disagreed. About 77 percent were Texans.

The Alamo Defenders Descendants Association conducted its own survey of 2,569 Texans via email and robocall. In that survey, 60 percent of people were in favor of keeping the Cenotaph at its current location, 6 percent favored moving it, and 34 percent didn’t have enough information or had no opinion.

State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, also spoke at the rally, saying he supports leaving the Cenotaph alone.

“We’re getting other legislators together so that we can put pressure on the GLO and George P. Bush (GLO commissioner) to be able to keep the Cenotaph right here, where it belongs,” Biedermann said.

After the rally, Biedermann explained the Texas Legislature appropriates money to the General Land Office, and Bush is one of two people who has the power to veto the Alamo Plan. The other person is Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

“We’re going to put the pressure on Commissioner Bush because that’s who we work with,” he said.

Correction: The Alamo Defenders Descendants Association conducted the survey via robocall and email about Texans' perspectives regarding moving the Cenotaph. A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed the survey.

Contact Jolene Almendarez: 210-550-0087 | jolene@saheron.com | @jalmendarez57 on Twitter

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