Judge Blocks Confederate Monument’s Removal

Chris Kenning and Phillip M. Bailey, Courier-Journal, May 2, 2016

A Jefferson County Circuit judge on Monday issued a restraining order to block removal of the controversial Confederate monument near the University of Louisville.

Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman issued the order Monday morning against Mayor Greg Fischer and metro government, barring them from moving, disassembling or otherwise tampering with the 70-foot-tall monument. A hearing is set for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. to consider the plaintiffs’ motion for a full temporary injunction.

GOP congressional hopeful Everett Corley filed the temporary restraining order in Jefferson Circuit Court to stop Fischer and U of L President James Ramsey from removing the monument from the school’s campus. Also listed as plaintiffs are the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Kentucky Division, and its “Chief of Heritage Defense,” and political activist Ed Springston.

“This restraining order is about respecting veterans,” said Corley, a real estate agent, who argued it was the “equivalent of a book burning” and smacked of political correctness gone awry.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said he would fight the restraining order, which he said took him by surprise. He said no one from his office was at the hearing.

“We’ll obviously comply with whatever those orders are . . . but we will move to immediately set this aside,” he said. “This is a question of law and a question of facts. I’m not over here to politically grandstand like this gentleman is,” he said, referring to Corley.

Thomas McAdam, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the suit is based on several arguments in hopes of turning the order into a permanent injunction to keep the monument in place.

He said the basis of the lawsuit is that the mayor violated several laws, including not going through proper local, state and federal laws including historic preservation procedures. Because of the monument’s placement on the national register of historic places, he said, notifications and hearings are required. The suit argues the move also violates the Kentucky Military Heritage Act and other state laws.

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Fischer has previously said the monument should be moved from its location between Second and Third streets because it represents a painful chapter in history.

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The granite monument, completed in 1895, was built with funding from the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association for $12,000, according to the suit.

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