LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The approval of an appeal by the Mayor’s office to remove the John B. Castleman statue in Cherokee Park has residents of the city at odds.
In January, the Cherokee Triangle Architectural Review Committee tied in a vote to remove the statue, so the statue remained. Thursday, the Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission voted five to four ARC’s decision was made without enough information.
The meeting was packed with opposition to the statue, urging local leaders to remove it because of Castleman’s history with the confederacy.
“It’s a symbol of oppression and it was made for that purpose,” Kevin Afrika, attendee who opposes the statue, said.
Afrika told commissioners his son has questioned why the statue remains if some see it as a symbol of oppression. In the end, he said the move symbolizes a healthy outcome for everyone.
“We can’t hold onto the past," Afrika explained. “We have to progress and that means rethinking what our past has been.”
Supporters used Castleman’s contribution to the Louisville park system as reason to keep the statue in place.
Others opposed to the mayor’s appeal said they felt like it was being affirmed on a “technicality” requested in be returned to ARC or another governing body. There could also be an appeal to a higher court if someone wanted to push that forward.
Attendees said it was difficult for some to stand up to the board appointed by the mayor.
“Everyone is just too afraid to take part in this discussion because they don’t want to be tagged as racist," nearby resident Lynn Horrar said.
Horrar regards the 1913 as a piece of art and is dreading its removal. She said she hopes the issue will go to another governing body.
“It is going to be very devastating,” Horrar said. “It is just going to be a big empty hole.”
The city has drafted an agreement with Cave Hill Cemetery to take the statue. The mayor’s office said a date and cost are pending final agreement.