Public meets to discuss controversial monuments, Castleman vandalism

The committee plans to hold several more meetings to come up with a plan and hear from the public. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The committee plans to hold several more meetings to come up with a plan and hear from the public. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Those driving through the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood might have noticed something in their rear-view mirror.

That sight, of people checking out a statue, vandalized with bright orange paint, has prompted discussion among city leaders.

"It was a guy on a horse, and now it has become much more," Tricia Burke, a member of the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee, said.

The Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee gathered Saturday morning to talk about what Louisville should do with those structures, including some that have become controversial.

"These aren't artworks in the same way that you say a Picasso statue would be where you say this has artistic value that you need to maintain," committee member Dr. Chris Reitz said.

The discussion started off broadly, but it didn't take long for the focus to shift to the John B. Castleman monument, a Cherokee Triangle statue that was spray painted with the word "racist" earlier this week.

"For us to say, something has been vandalized over and over again, that we don't want it and it should be removed, I do not agree with that," committee member Ashley Haynes said.

While some committee members agreed, one pointed out that a pattern of vandalism over decades should be noted.

"In this case, it does feel like the vandalism represents feelings of voicelessness," Dr. Reitz said.

The group tried to figure out ways to evaluate whether statues like the Castleman monument should be taken down, or if others should be put up to provide more historical context, or if there's an entirely different solution.

"He was more than flawed in a number of ways," one member of the public said.

Others at the meeting said something needs to be done about the statue because of Castleman's connection to the confederacy and ties to segregation at city parks.

Others said they don't believe the criticism is based in fact and want to make sure the history is investigated before any actions are taken.

The committee plans to hold several more meetings to come up with a plan and hear from the public.

You can learn more about how to get involved at the committee's webpage.

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