FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Kentucky needs to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol's rotunda.
McConnell said Davis' only connection to Kentucky is he was born there. Davis later moved to Mississippi, and Kentucky never officially joined the confederacy. McConnell suggested a better place for the statue would be at the Kentucky History Museum in Frankfort.
Leaders in states across the country have taken steps to remove Confederate symbols following the shooting deaths of nine black people in a South Carolina church last week. A 21-year-old white man has been charged with the murders.
Kentucky's Republican nominee for governor, Matt Bevin, and the Republican president of the state Senate, Robert Stivers, have also said the statue should be removed.
Gov. Steve Beshear released the following statement on the Capitol rotunda statues:
"It's time to reconsider the statues which represent Kentucky in our state capitol, as each statue has been in place for more than a half century. Per state law (KRS 11.026), the Historic Properties Advisory Commission determines what is displayed in the Rotunda, and I am requesting that they review these monuments in context of Kentucky's history.
Kentucky holds a unique place in Civil War history, as our state was the birthplace of both presidents during that war. Jefferson Davis' statue is just a few steps away from the central Abraham Lincoln statue. While Davis' likeness hasn't been used in the same way as the Confederate flag, a broader discussion of the statue's position in the Capitol is due.
I urge the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to seek public input as well as the advice of the state's historians on all the art in the Capitol Rotunda in order to consider the necessary historic, social and educational context of these monuments."
The following is a statement from House Speaker Greg Stumbo:
"The decision on what statues or monuments reside in the state Capitol is made by the Historic Properties Advisory Commission, but I have no objection to removing the statue of Jefferson Davis and placing it at the Center for Kentucky History. To me, the real issue at hand is why Matt Bevin accepted a donation from a white supremacist and why he did not return it immediately and only chose to take any action regarding it this week."