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Judge dismisses lawsuit in Confederate monument case

Published: Jun. 20, 2016 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2016 at 9:50 PM EDT
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Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell (Source: Steven Richard, WAVE 3 News)
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell (Source: Steven Richard, WAVE 3 News)
The monument has been in place since 1895. (Source: Steven Richard, WAVE 3 News)
The monument has been in place since 1895. (Source: Steven Richard, WAVE 3 News)
The Sons of Confederate Veterans wanted a judge to keep the monument at its present location....
The Sons of Confederate Veterans wanted a judge to keep the monument at its present location. (Source: Steven Richard, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An exhaustive battle over the city's controversial Confederate Monument on the University of Louisville campus appears to be over. Monday, a Jefferson Circuit Judge dismissed a lawsuit in the case, but where it will go is still to be determined.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell is happy about the ruling, saying the plaintiffs simply did not make their case. A day earlier, with Confederate flags in hand, protesters stood their ground on the UofL campus hopeful Judge Judith  McDonald-Burkman would keep the historic 70 foot Confederate
monument in place.

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Those who wanted the statue to stand argued it's simply a matter of history and the discussion about the past is what moves our community forward. Others contend it's a painful reminder of the past and a step back for the University and its students to keep it up.

The decision on what to do with the controversial statue that dates back to 1895 came down to some simple questions about the property on Third Street. Most importantly who owns the property? The Sons of Confederate Veterans who filed suit to stop the monument's removal claimed the city did not own the property.

"Which is false," said O'Connell.

O'Connell also said the the second plaintiff argument that the National Register of Historic Places also had control over the matter was again false.

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"Third, they alleged it had some protection under the Kentucky Heritage Commission, which was false," said O'Connell, "and in fact, it was so false that they put a witness on the stand on the day of the hearing who said on the day before, 24 hours before the hearing they filled out an application."

O'Connell said he would advise the city not to allow the plaintiffs to be involved in how the monument is removed and where it will be relocated.

Several historic groups around the state have said they would like to have the monument. The Commission on Public Art will meet in the next couple of weeks to recommend where it should be moved.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans can still file an appeal. John Suttles, the Division Commander with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he's not sure if the organization will file an appeal. Right now, Suttles said, the organization is just trying to regroup and decide where to go next. Suttles said ultimately they want to make sure the monument is preserved and would like to give input about where it will be moved.

Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer said he is open to hearing from people about different locations in the community as a site for the Confederate Memorial.

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