Ky. government leaders discuss Confederate symbols, monuments

Gov. Bevin speaks on Confederate statue controversy

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Amidst the food booths and rides at the Kentucky State Fair, the violence and racial unrest that gripped Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend is still on the minds of many.

"On Saturday, I know the nation, as I did, thought this is something I only had to read about in history books, I wouldn't be seeing this in 2017," Secy. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, D.-Kentucky, said. "There's no place for it."

"People do in America have the right to spew whatever they want to spew given our First Amendment," Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, said. "Sometimes they spew something worth listening to and many times as we've seen recently, it's nothing worth listening to, and yet they have that right."

Bevin spoke out against the violence, making it clear that type of hatred is not welcome in the Bluegrass State.

"There is no room for racial intolerance in this state. There just isn't," he said. "And our state has always done and continues to do a pretty stellar job of exemplifying what harmony does have the possibility of looking like."

The White Nationalist rally and the violence that followed has led to a debate across the country about symbols of the Confederacy and whether they have a place in government buildings and public parks. In Louisville, the debate has focused on the Castleman statue in the Cherokee Triangle, which was vandalized following the attack in Charlottesville.

Earlier this week, Bevin told a radio show he disagreed with the removal of Confederate symbols and monuments, but Thursday, said the decision should be left to the people.

"It's a healthy, normal process," he said. "No one individual should be making these decisions. They should be made by individuals trusted in the community to make these decisions on their behalf."

Another monument in the spotlight is the statue of Jefferson Davis in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, Ky. Several lawmakers and community leaders have called for its removal in wake of the events in Charlottesville, something Grimes agrees with.

"We have no place for such idols, especially at the center of government, let alone through our cities and counties throughout the Commonwealth and this nation," she said. "There's a place for it in history museums, just not in our government properties."

The push to remove the statue of Davis is not new. A similar effort was made in 2015, but the Historic Properties Advisory Committee then voted 7-2 in favor of keeping it for its historical value.

"We've got to remember where we came from," Bevin said. "We've got to know who we are and we better have a sense of vision and purpose as to where we're going, and we should be very thoughtful with respect to what we think of as the right symbols to show that."

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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