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Due to the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the removal of a Confederate statue, Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky is fast tracking the moving of Confederate statues from where they now stand on the downtown square for more 100 years to a new location.
Mayor Gray was just set to make the proposal for such a move sometime this week but was forced to expedite things as a result of the Charlottesville chaos. Gray will ask the council that those statues be moved to Veterans Park instead and stand alongside two Union statues.
Mayor Gray said:” The violence that we’re seeing today, the hatred that we’re seeing today, that’s wrong, and we must be vigorous as elected officials in calling it out just for what it is. We can not always decide on the timing, but it’s so important that we speak out vigorously now against hatred, against bigotry, and discrimination and prejudice.”
Amy Taylor, professor of history at the University of Kentucky agrees with Gray and said that moving the statues is “simply the right thing to do.” He also said that he does not think it is right to “continue to honor and glorify these men, the Confederate men.”
Gray said he drew a “lesson” from the Charlottesville incident. He said: ”And I think what Charlottesville showed , or what it revealed, is what is at stake in this conversation we’ve been having in here Lexington. That this is not a conversation about preserving an artifact of the Civil War. It’s a conversation about to what degree we’ll allow symbols of white supremacy in our public spaces.”
There are also glaring increased security around the downtown square where the Confederate statues are located since Sunday. Gray said there are “officers that are prepared and on duty and we’re prepared for any event that might occur.” He does not think, however, that outsiders will come to the city to cause trouble.
If the council approves Gray’s proposal, it’d go to the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission. The commission is not set to meet again until November, so Gray will just have to ask it to make a quicker decision.