Group pushes to keep Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle

About three weeks ago, an appeal was filed by a group to stop the removal.
Updated: Jul. 2, 2019 at 6:18 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - To move or not to move? That’s been the long debate about the Castleman Statue in Louisville’s Cherokee Triangle.

Friends of Louisville Public Art placed signs around the base of the statue Tuesday. (Source:...
Friends of Louisville Public Art placed signs around the base of the statue Tuesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The city said it was going to be relocated. Then, about three weeks ago, an appeal was filed by a group to stop the removal. So now things are at a standstill.

A group called Friends of Louisville Public Art came together on Tuesday. They want the statue to stay in Cherokee Triangle and want the vandalism of it to stop. They say Castleman -- when compared to views of his time -- was a progressive where the rights and safety of African Americans were concerned.

Steve Wiser set up signs around the statue on Tuesday. He says Castleman has been demonized as a racist and traitor over the years due to his confederate service, but his lifetime achievements reveal a different narrative.

Wiser said Castleman was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.

Waymen Eddings and Martina Kunnecke came out to support the statue staying put.

“When I look at the Castleman statue I look at a piece of art, but also a piece of history,” Eddings said.

Kunnecke added: “It’s always troubling when history is cleaned up, dirtied up, fashioned to fit a political purpose.”

The statue, which has been vandalized several times, has caused controversy because of Castleman's ties to the confederacy and support of slavery.

Waymen Eddings supports the statue staying in Cherokee Triangle. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Waymen Eddings supports the statue staying in Cherokee Triangle. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Others feel differently, saying his history is misunderstood. Castleman was known as the “father of the Louisville park system.”

“(He was known) for his efforts to keep public parks open to African Americans,” Kunnecke said.

They say this statue isn’t about the North or the South, it’s about what Castleman did later in his life.

“Castleman, as the head of the Louisville Legion Military Unit, prevented the lynching of two African American prisoners in the city hall by a mob that numbered in the thousands,” Eddings said.

That’s why they want the vandalism to stop.

“I did at one time think that it should come down, like the other statues we’ve talked about,” Louisville resident Ameerah Granger said.

So what changed his mind?

“I was really surprised to recently to get more information to know that the story that was put out there wasn’t really true and people were acting on misleading information and it’s kinda group think," Granger said. "I regret that I was in that too, but I’m also happy to learn more about it.”

The Friends of Louisville Public Art is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the people behind the vandalism of the Castleman statue and the recent vandalism of Muhammad Ali on the Louisville Rushmore Mural.

Since an appeal was filed to move the statue to a local cemetery, it has to play out in the court system.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s office issued a statement on June 10, after the lawsuit was filed:

"The Mayor is disappointed to see the process slowed by appeal, but is confident that the Landmarks Commission acted appropriately and made the right decision in supporting the decision to move the statue. The Mayor stands by that decision. Louisville must not maintain statues that serve as validating symbols for racist or bigoted ideology. As this process moves to the courts, we refer more specific questions to the Jefferson County Attorney."

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