Plan to remove Confederate Memorial halted by restraining order

Plan to remove Confederate Memorial halted by restraining order
Published: May. 2, 2016 at 4:22 PM EDT|Updated: May. 2, 2016 at 11:18 PM EDT
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Everett Corley (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Everett Corley (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Thomas McAdam (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Thomas McAdam (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Jefferson county Attorney Mike O'Connell (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Jefferson county Attorney Mike O'Connell (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Crews hadn't planned to remove it during Derby Week; merely to gauge the time, the costs and manner of doing so. But now an order from Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald Burkman keeps a monument to Kentucky's Confederate Civil War veterans right where it has stood for 121 years - at the fork of 2nd & 3rd Streets on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus.

"The people have a right to say so something about this, what is so terrible about that," asked Everett Corley, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a Republican candidate for Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House. Three people can't make this decision.

Corley was referring to Dr. James Ramsey, the UofL president, Mayor Greg Fischer, and incumbent Congressman John Yarmuth, who announced last week that the 70 foot tall memorial of stone and bronze would be removed from campus.

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"I don't see where harm is being done to the Sons of the Confederacy, and people of their ilk," said Dr. Ricky Jones, chair of Pan-African Studies. "The real harm is being done to the faculty and staff and students at the University of Louisville."

Is it a symbol of slavery, oppression and secession or a tribute to Kentuckians who fought for state's rights? Though the Commonwealth did not secede from the Union, it was a slave state. Kentucky's stand in sympathy is marked by a star on the Confederate battle flag. But if history is rebel grey, Thomas McAdam, Corley's attorney, argues that the laws are black and white.

"The monument is on the National Registry," said McAdam. "You can't just tear down national monuments without going through a lengthy process. "It is a state monument. We have a state monument law that says you have to go through a process. This is Old Louisville, so it's in the Historic Preservation Zone. And that's state right-of-way. So we're in contact with the Governor's office."

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At the time of this story Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell said ownership of the strip of land where the monument stands is unclear.

"A hearing was conducted without Metro having an opportunity to be heard and argue it," McConnell said. "So we'll be filing appropriate motions immediately to set (the restraining order) aside."

Late Monday afternoon, O'Connell filed a motion for a continuance, citing just that argument.

"The assigned date does not allow defendants sufficient time to respond to the complaint, nor does the allotted time of one and one-half hours provide sufficient time to prepare and present this case," the motion read. "The plaintiff's motion is deficient on its face."

Judge McDonald Burkman will hear O'Donnell's motion at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Fischer told reporters Monday that removing the statue was "the right decision."

"People obviously are reacting very emotionally to this," Fischer said. "Some people are disappointed it's not being blown up. Other people are disappointed it's being moved. So we're going through that process right now."

John Karman, a spokesman for the University of Louisville, said although costs and timetables haven't been determined, the school will be paying for removal of the monument.

"The monument should be reassembled elsewhere as a tribute to the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War," said Karman's written statement in part. "It's history is not about the Civil War but about the soldiers who died."

The University is "talking to five potential sites" as possible new homes for the memorial, Karman said in a written statement.

"The sites have ties to Confederate soldiers and their graves," the statement continued. “When we find the site that best reflects the monument’s history, it will be recommended to Dr. Ramsey and Mayor Fischer."

UofL is considering two sites for temporary storage. It has not determined costs for removal, storage or relocation.

"There is no intent on relocating this," Corley said. “That would cost millions of dollars. If they could - if there was the truth, they would have told you where they're going to put it. Have they? No."

A hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court.

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