The statue of U.S Brigadier General and Confederate officer John Breckinridge Castleman that sits prominently in Louisville’s Cherokee Triangle neighborhood has apparently been vandalized again.
Castleman’s face was covered with red paint Wednesday morning. Louisville Metro Police confirmed the statue was vandalized at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Another statue was also vandalized Tuesday night or Wednesday morning: the statue of newspaper publisher George Prentice outside the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. Prentice’s anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant rhetoric is credited with contributing to the “Bloody Monday” riots in 1855 — a fact which is mentioned in the plaque next to the statue.
The statue of John B. Castleman has been at the center of Louisville’s reckoning with potentially racist art. After a White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly last August, protests erupted around the U.S. Protesters demanded the removal of remnants of the Confederacy — statues erected years later that honor Confederate generals and soldiers.
While other cities took action — nearby Lexington removed two of its statues to a cemetery in November — Louisville has launched a review of all of the city’s public art. A committee has been tasked with outlining which principles will be used to decide whether to alter, preserve or remove public art and monuments that may be interpreted as honoring bigotry, racism and slavery.
In an emailed statement Wednesday morning, Mayor Greg Fischer said although people have differing viewpoints about the statues, vandalism is not the proper way to express those views.
It is costly, divisive and ultimately ineffective since it basically is a one-way conversation. We have initiated a community dialogue about public art, including a meeting of our new Public Art Advisory Committee tonight at the Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. I’d ask citizens to share your views in public, with each other, through opportunities like this, including an online opportunity. Let’s talk with each other, not at each other.
The members of the committee were announced last week, and their work is expected to continue through June.
Most of the conversation in Louisville has centered on the Castleman statue. Castleman served in the Confederate Army, and is identified as such in a marker next to the statue. This, many say, shows he was glorified for his role in the Confederacy. But others have argued the monument is an integral part of the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood landscape. Castleman also played a key role in establishing Louisville’s city parks, and this, defenders say, is what he should be remembered for.
The statue was vandalized in August, and the city paid $8,200 to clean and restore the statue.
This story has been updated.