Mayor talks about surprise removal of Lexington's Confederate statues

Published: Oct. 20, 2017 at 11:46 AM EDT
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Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is talking about the city's surprise move of two Confederate statues. On Tuesday, the city removed the statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge that used to stand in Cheapside Park.

"At the end of the day, we did what's right for the real history of Cheapside," said Mayor Gray.

Cheapside used to be home one of the largest slave auction blocks in the south.

Mayor Gray proposed relocating the statues in early August. It came after a white supremacist rally in support of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly. A few weeks later, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council unanimously approved the request. At the time, the city believed it needed the approval of the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission to move the statues. City leaders asked for an opinion from the state Attorney General. Andy Beshear found an application giving authority of the statues to the KMHC in 2003 was not valid because the mayor at the time did not have approval from the Urban County Council to sign it. The city received that information early on Tuesday.

"That was then shared with the council and we were able to make plans for the shift, for the move, Tuesday night," said Mayor Gray.

The statues have been moved to a private storage facility until a deal to house them at Lexington Cemetery can be finalized.

"The statues are being moved in a respectful way to an appropriate and final resting place and that is the Lexington cemetery," said Mayor Gray. "We have shown the way for the country in how to do this."

Mayor Gray says there is no specific timeline for that process.

"I'm very confident that we have conducted with the cemetery that is the respectful place, the right place for them to be moved," said Mayor Gray.