Judge denies attempt to force Louisville to reinstall Castleman statue

The judge agreed with the city's argument.
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 4:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The years-long legal battle over the John Castleman statue, which went all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, may be over.

A Louisville judge sided with the city Monday morning, denying an attempt by the Friends of Louisville Public Art to force the city to reinstall Castleman in Cherokee Triangle.

Friends of Louisville Public Art said they need to figure out their next steps.

They haven’t yet decided whether they’ll appeal this loss.

That’s partly because the city is moving forward with their new applications this week to remove the statue.

“I think there’s a lot of reasons for it not to come back,” neighbor Mona Fischer said. “Every time it would be put back, it would be defaced again

She watched Castleman come down from her balcony years ago, and she said it’s smart for the judge not to force the city to put it back up. She said the statue would just get vandalized again.

“Neighbors would come out and clean it because none of us wanted to look at it, but it would just get vandalized again,” Fischer said.

The judge agreed with the city’s reading of state law, saying it has the ultimate authority to decide whether Castleman stays or goes no matter what the Landmarks Commission decides. Those city meetings will start this week. The Mayor’s Office has said several times it has no desire to reinstall Castleman.

“We have no plans to do anything different than we’ve been doing, and we’re considering all options for moving forward,” Mayor Craig Greenberg said in April.

The Friends of Louisville Public Art said in a statement they’re extremely disappointed with this decision. They’ve not decided yet whether they will appeal. They also said there are other statues around Louisville with stronger connections to slavery and segregation. Fischer said she hopes something will be put back up in the middle of the roundabout, but what is anybody’s guess.

“I hope something goes there that’s not political,” Fischer said.

The Landmarks Commission meets Thursday to review the city’s latest application to remove Castleman for good.