City to relocate statues, UK denounces hate


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray addresses Kentuckians during the event held in solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia held in front of the Courthouse in downtown Lexington on Monday August 14, 2017. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kat Manouchehri

Kentucky is no stranger to racism, but as society grows, there is a desperate need for the eradication of hatred toward a single race.

After the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced plans to relocate the city’s Confederate statues, following the nationwide effort of the removal of Confederate statues from public property.

“The plan we are working to implement would keep the statues in Lexington, in a place where we can offer opportunities to learn more about our authentic history,” Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city, said. “We are not erasing history.”

The statues of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge that stand on the lawn of the former Fayette County Courthouse are set to be relocated by the end of this year, Straub said.

“It’s just not right for us to continue to honor these Confederate men who fought to preserve slavery on the same ground that men, women and even children were once sold into a life of slavery,” Gray said in a statement Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Gray proposed relocating the statues to Veterans Park along with two monuments representing the Union effort, according to his statement Tuesday.

“We are restoring our historic courthouse and it will become our visitors center, so we want it to be a place that welcomes everyone,” Straub said. “In addition, the statues do not tell the story of our authentic history, and we think it is important to do that.”

Earlier this week, white nationalists reportedly announced they plan to gather in Lexington to protest the removal of the Confederate statues, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“In the event something happens, our police officers are well trained and prepared,” Straub said.

UK President Eli Capilouto sent a campus-wide email denouncing “hate, bigotry and violence,” stating that it was not allowed in the UK community.

Campus police are also aware of the potential threat, and are prepared to take action, if needed.

“Campus safety officers are aware of the potential rally and will take any precautions necessary,” UK Student Government Association President Ben Childress said. “Currently there is a plan to coordinate with many other groups and put together an alternative event for students that focuses on our own UK community.”

Childress signed a statement in solidarity with student body presidents across the nation expressing sadness and a commitment to making college campuses places “to call home, not places of violence, hate and racism.”

Childress said his hope for UK students after these recent events will spur an open dialogue within the community.

“My hope is that these overt displays of racism and hate will bring light to these issues and engage students in a healthy dialogue about racial issues in our community who otherwise might abstain from the conversation,” Childress said.

“Going forward my hope for our campus community is that we will take care of each other and be each others keeper,” Childress said. “I want us to be the type of community that stands up for one another and supports each other when we see someone hurting from anxiety or depression, and when we see someone being the target of any kind of hate or identity-based violence.”