Politics

A judge says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer can remove a confederate monument near the University of Louisville campus.

The mayor and U of L President James Ramsey announced plans to remove the statue in late April, but a group headed up by the Sons of Confederate Veterans challenged the move, saying the monument was protected as a designated historical object.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell called the group’s legal arguments “dishonest.”

“There wasn’t a single shred of evidence to support any of their allegations,” O’Connell said. “The entire thing was a sham.”

The statue was built with funds raised by the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association in 1895. The obelisk is nearly 70 feet tall and its foundation sinks about five feet into the ground at its base.

Lawyers representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans argued that the city doesn’t own the monument, that it was located in a historical preservation district and warned that the statue could be damaged if it were moved to a new location.

In her order, Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman pointed out that Louisville Metro Government does in fact own the monument and actively insures it.

“The plaintiffs have failed to establish that they have any rights to the monument, or the land upon which it rests, superior to those of Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government and/or the University of Louisville,” McDonald-Burkman wrote.

The group opposing the removal of the 120 year-old monument won a temporary restraining order a few days after Fischer and Ramsey announced the statue would be removed.

The city can now go forward with relocation plans — officials have previously stated the memorial could be moved to another site like a museum or cemetery.

The removal of the statue is supposed to be funded by the University of Louisville Foundation, which manages the school’s endowment.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.