Ben Tobin, Louisville Courier Journal, June 8, 2020
After years of public debate, the controversial statue of John B. Castleman was removed by Louisville city officials Monday.
Crews began work on taking down the statue in Louisville’s Cherokee Triangle around 6 a.m. local time and moved it to a storage facility. According to the city, the plan is to place the statue at Cave Hill Cemetery, where Castleman is buried.
Negotiations with the cemetery are ongoing, the city said.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has wanted to remove the statue for years, arguing it’s a hurtful relic of history because of Castleman’s Confederate ties.
A lawsuit filed in 2019 by a Louisville arts group slowed the process – but on Friday, a Jefferson Circuit Court Judge affirmed the city’s ability to remove the statue.
The removal of the statue comes after 11-straight days and nights of protests over the police shootings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee. On Monday, Fischer said, “The events of the past weeks have shown clearly that it’s not enough just to face our history – we’ve got to address its impact on our present.
“Too many people are suffering today because the promises of justice and equality enshrined in our Constitution are unfulfilled by a society that devalues African-American lives and denies African Americans justice, opportunity and equity. That’s got to change. People want and deserve action. We need a transformation.”
Constructed in 1913, the 15-foot bronze statue has drawn controversy – and attracted vandals – related to Castleman’s time in the Confederate army serving under John Hunt Morgan, the notorious leader of Morgan’s Raiders.
Castleman dropped out of school at the age of 20 to join the Confederate Army, rising the ranks to become a major. In 1916, Castleman renounced the Confederate cause, and during World War I, he condemned three white soldiers who refused to salute a black captain.