Louisville will remove the controversial statue of newspaper editor George Dennison Prentice outside of the Main Branch of the Louisville Public Library on Tuesday.
City workers started the removal Monday, using crowbars and chisels to separate Prentice from the statue’s base. A crane will remove the statue on Tuesday, and transport it to a storage facility on Lexington Road.
The statue, along with one of General John Breckinridge Castleman in the Cherokee Triangle, has been vandalized multiple times in the past year. Castleman served in the Confederate Army; Prentice was the editor of the Louisville Journal, and his anti-immigrant rhetoric was considered partially responsible for deadly riots in Louisville.
“Mr. Prentice used his position as founder and long-time editor of the Louisville Journal to advocate an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant message that led to the 1855 Bloody Monday riot where at least 22 people were killed,” Fischer said in a Monday press release. “His statue is especially inappropriate outside the library, a place that encourages education, inclusiveness and compassion.”
Both the Prentice and Castleman statues came under scrutiny as the city began to evaluate whether any of its public art honored either the Confederacy, racism or bigotry. That scrutiny intensified after August, 2017, when a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee ended with a man running over protesters and killing activist Heather Heyer.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer first announced the statues would move this August after a recommendation by his Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee. At the time, Fischer suggested moving both the statues of Prentice and Castleman to Cave HIll Cemetery, where the men are buried, but the cemetery declined to take the Prentice statue.
In the meantime, Mayoral spokeswoman Jean Porter said Prentice’s statue will be put into storage. Porter said the city is still discussing whether the Castleman statue can go to Cave Hill; if it doesn’t, Porter said it will also go into storage.
It will be up to the Louisville Public Library to decide what the space vacated by the statue could be used for — whether that be leaving it vacant, installing greenery or replacing it with a new statue. Porter said the library hasn’t made a decision about the future of the space.
If a statue or other public art is recommended to fill the space, the city’s Public Art Commission would step in, evaluate the proposal and determine how to pay for it. Any new monuments would have to meet the newly-established guidelines for public art in the city.