Kentucky Supreme Court to review monument removal decision

louisville monument controversy
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 14:52:30-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to consider a lawsuit that seeks to re-erect a statue of a Louisville civic and military leader who fought for the Confederacy before later renouncing it.
The statue of John B. Castelman was vandalized several times over a few years before it was removed in June 2020 from its pedestal near Louisville's Cherokee Park, 107 years after is was erected, The Courier Journal reported. That followed a 2019 decision from Louisville's landmarks commission that the monument could be taken down. It is currently in storage.

The monument depicts Castleman riding a horse and wearing a suit and tie, not a military uniform.

A group called Friends of Louisville Public Art filed a lawsuit challenging the landmarks commission ruling that allowed the statue to be removed. They argue the statue is a local landmark and claim several commission members should not have been allowed to vote because they have a conflict of interest.

While the group acknowledges Castleman’s Confederate ties, they argue that he later renounced his allegiance to the Confederacy. Castleman later served as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. He was partially responsible for establishing Louisville’s park system and fought to keep the city’s parks and playgrounds open to Black residents.

Kentucky’s Court of Appeals upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court judge’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit. The appeals court ruled that there were “no facts to support the conflict of interests claim."

In an order earlier this month, the state Supreme Court said it will review that ruling, a decision that has encouraged Friends of Louisville Public Art.

“We’re very optimistic," Steve Wiser, who serves on the group's executive committee, said in an email to the paper.

Sarah Martin, the director of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office Civil Division, told The Courier Journal in an email the office will file a brief in support of the statue’s removal.