Two historic, controversial statues in Louisville to be moved

2 controversial statues in Louisville to be relocated
The George Denison Prentice Statue currently stands outside the Louisville Free Public Library. (Source: Maira Ansari, WAVE 3 News)
The George Denison Prentice Statue currently stands outside the Louisville Free Public Library. (Source: Maira Ansari, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Two controversial statues in Louisville will be moved away from their public locations.

The announcement was made by Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday.

The plan will relocate a statue of Confederate officer and President of the Board of Park Commissioners John Breckinridge Castleman from the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood.

The George Dennison Prentice statue, now housed outside the downtown Louisville Free Public Library, will also be relocated.

The Castleman statue has been vandalized several times over the past year. This led to discussions between members of the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee, appointed late last year by Fischer, to decide what Louisville should do with those structures.

The committee's recommendations were given to the mayor on June 30.

"Our Public Art and Monuments committee worked very hard, in cooperation with citizens, to develop thoughtful principles to help ensure that our public art and monuments respect our history but reflect the values of today," Fischer said in a statement. "I support those principles, and I used the criteria laid out in their report to make this decision about the Castleman and Prentice statues."

Fischer also noted that while the city's history is important, validating symbols for racist or bigoted ideology cannot be tolerated.

"While Castleman was honored for contributions to the community, it cannot be ignored that he also fought to continue the horrific and brutal slavery of men, women and children; heralded that part of his life in his autobiography; and had his coffin draped with both a U.S. and Confederate flag," Fischer said in a statement. "And while Prentice was founder and long-time editor of the Louisville Journal newspaper, he used that platform to advocate an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant message that led to the 1865 Bloody Monday riot where 22 people were killed."

Mayor Fischer insisted that moving the statues does not erase history; instead, moving the statues allows Louisville residents to examine "history in a new context that more accurately reflects the reality of the day, a time when the moral deprivation of slavery is clear."

Some residents in the Cherokee Triangle, where the Castleman monument has stood since 1913, expressed disappointment.

"I believe the statue has been there for over a hundred years and it should stay there," resident Roger Kremer said.

Brad Buchanan added: "Grandly, it represents the latter part of this gentleman's life. It does not represent the Confederacy."

The decision to move the statues came just four days before the one year anniversary of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesvillle, VA.

Supporters of the move described it as appropriate and timely.

"These are our monuments and statues that we have to address as a community," David Horvath, member of Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, said. "And we did so community wide."

The city is in conversation with Cave Hill Cemetery about moving the statues to their family burial grounds there. Relocation of the Castleman statue will require a review by the Cherokee Triangle Preservation District, according to the mayor's office.

If no other suitable relocation sites are found, the statues will go into storage.

The committee's report can be read here.

The city aims to have the statues moved and all issues resolved by the end of the year.

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