Vandals target two Louisville historic statues

Vandals target two Louisville historic statues
Orange paint was thrown on the John B. Castleman around 11 p.m. Tuesday, according to Louisville Metro police. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The George Denison Prentice Statue outside the Louisville Free Public Library was also targeted. (Source: Maira Ansari, WAVE 3 News)
The George Denison Prentice Statue outside the Louisville Free Public Library was also targeted. (Source: Maira Ansari, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The statue of a Confederate leader near Cherokee Park that had been a previous target of vandals was vandalized again, along with a second statue located in Louisville's Central Business District.

Louisville Metro Police say the John B. Castleman statue was vandalized around 11 p.m. Tuesday. The statue was covered with orange paint.

Castleman served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was sentenced to death for spying on the U.S. but was pardoned. He was also a notable businessman and played a role in establishing the Olmsted Park system.

The Castleman Monument, which sits within the Cherokee Triangle at Cherokee Road and Cherokee Parkway, was unveiled Nov. 8, 1913. It was vandalized in August 2017 following the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A local company cleaned the statue for $8,200 over the summer.

Also damaged was a statue of George Denison Prentice, which sits in the 300 block of York Street outside the Louisville Free Public Library. A plaque on the statue says Prentice, who had been a teacher along with studying law and medicine, became a journalist and was invited to Louisville by Henry Clay to promote Clay's bid for president of the United States.

According to the plaque, "In 1830, Prentice launched the Louisville Journal as a partisan Whig paper, and attacked his political enemies with a sharp pen published in a widely distributed booklet called 'Prenticeana.'" It also says his "anti-Catholic/anti-immigrant rhetoric" may have contributed to the Election Day 1855 "Bloody Monday" riots.

The Prentice statue vandalism comes ironically on the same day and same location where an advisory committee on the city's public art is scheduled to meet. From 5 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7, the new Public Art Advisory Committee will be meeting at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public to discuss the future of the artwork in the city, which includes the Castleman statue.

The topic of Confederate monuments was discussed at the Simmons College of Kentucky West Louisville forum. Dr. Karen Cox, a professor of history at UNC Charlotte, was the guest speaker. Several members of local churches and Metro Council leaders attended the discussion at St. Stephen Baptist Church.

"Ultimately where I fall on this is that because these were put up by a local community, the local community has the responsibility and moral responsibility to decide what should be done for today's community," Dr. Cox said.

Mayor Greg Fischer issued the following statement:

"In a diverse community like ours, people are going to have differing viewpoints, but vandalism is not the way to share those views. It is costly, divisive and ultimately ineffective since it basically is a one-way conversation. We have initiated a community dialogue about public art, including a meeting of our new Public Art Advisory Committee tonight at the Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. I'd ask citizens to share your views in public, with each other, through opportunities like this, including an online option. Let's talk with each other, not at each other."

LMPD continues its investigation into the vandalism. Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous police tip line at 502-574-LMPD (5673).

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