Castleman monument debate continues, protesters wrap banner around statue

Debate continues over Castleman statue

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- For more than a century, the figure of John Castleman has sat atop his mare, enshrined in bronze at the center of a roundabout near the Cherokee Triangle, but this past week, the monument has found itself in the center of a controversy following the violence in Charlottesville, with protesters mounting the statue Saturday, wrapping it in a banner reading "No Room for Racism."

"I think it's time we stop lionizing Confederate traitors to the United States," Kate Sedgwick, an organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), said.

Many have called for the removal of the statue of Castleman, who served as an officer in the Confederate Army, arguing it is a symbol of racism and oppression.

"It becomes less of an issue about the object and more of an issue about what the object represents," Mike Culbertson, a volunteer with SURJ, said. "What they were intended to do was re-establish or re-assert white dominance."

Others, like Rosemary Drybrough, have said the statue is a part of the neighborhood and a part of Louisville's history.

"I grew up in this neighborhood. I love that monument," she said. "I don't like change. I'm getting old. I don't like change."

Volunteers with Showing Up for Racial Justice spent part of Saturday afternoon going door to door, talking with residents and trying to get signatures for a petition to get the statue removed.

"Definitely a mixed bag," Sedgwick said. "Some people seem very passionate about saying that the symbol doesn't matter."

"Even if we get one out of 100, it's still worth it because every single person we talk to, it incites them to think about the subject," Culbertson said.

Drybrough said she recognizes the pain the statue may cause. She has her own idea - to change the plaque next to the statue with one that is printed with what she said are Castleman's positive achievements in Louisville instead of mentioning his involvement with the Confederate Army.

"I would like to have the plaque changed so it's not offensive to people, but I want to keep Castleman's monument right there where it's been for 104 years," she said.

The activists with SURJ later marched to the statue, with several people wrapping it with the banner to the cheers of the protestors, but several neighbors who want to see the Castleman monument remain argued back, with one woman even ripping off part of the banner.

"This is not a public building," Ginny, the neighbor who tore the banner, said. "I don't know how many people who are offended come driving around this circle every day. Not many."

Metro Police officers did arrive on scene. An officer told WHAS11 they were mostly concerned about people climbing the statue getting hurt. He said officers spoke with both groups of people and that both sides were understanding and cooperative.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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