The controversial statue of John Breckinridge Castleman in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood was vandalized again on Thursday. This time, the words “racist” and “traitor” were spray-painted onto the concrete base of the monument.
This comes two days after the city posted a “letter” in front of the statue which is addressed to visitors and residents. It reads, in part:
“Public art, like any shared public space, reacts with time, conditions and individuals who engage with it.”
The letter then details how the monument has been vandalized and conserved on multiple occasions in 1996, August 2017, and most recently on Feb. 7, 2018. It states that the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee, which was established in December, is hosting meetings until June 2018.
The letter continues:
“The current site conditions will not be addressed until after this process is complete. Louisville Metro Government remains committed to a public process with community input. We urge you to participate in public meetings. Write a letter. Get involved. Let your voice be heard.”
After Castleman was vandalized with orange paint in August, the city’s public arts administrator Sarah Lindgren said it would need to be restored regardless of whether the monument stayed in its current location or was removed.
At the time, the Falls Art Foundry was hired to complete an $8,200 restoration. It took a team of several professionals and a full week to fully clean the statue.
The statue was then vandalized with orange paint again in February on the eve of the Public Art and Monument Advisory Committee’s first public meeting.
Questions were then raised by community members as to whether or not the city would pay for additional restoration work prior to the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair and the Kentucky Derby, two events that bring many visitors to the area. The letter posted in front of the statue — which states the site won’t be addressed until after the committee’s final meeting — was ostensibly an answer to those questions.
However, this afternoon, a city crew came out to attempt to remove the new spray painted graffiti on the base on the statue.
According to Will Ford, a communications specialist for Louisville Metro, this latest vandalism is being classified as a normal “graffiti abatement job.” That means that no special restoration funds are being accessed to remove the spray paint.
For now though, it seems, the orange paint on the actual statue itself will stay.
The Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee is having a public meeting Thursday evening at the University of Louisville.