The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to consider a lawsuit to re-erect a statue of a Louisville civic and military leader who fought for the Confederacy before later giving it up.
The John B. Castelman statue was repeatedly vandalized in a few years before being removed in June 2020 from its pedestal near Louisville’s Cherokee Park, 107 years after it was erected, The Courier Journal reported. This follows a 2019 decision by the Louisville Landmarks Commission that the monument could be demolished. It is currently in storage.
The monument depicts Castleman on horseback and wearing a suit and tie, not a military uniform.
A group called Friends of Louisville Public Art has filed a lawsuit challenging the landmarks commission’s decision that allowed the statue to be removed. They maintain that the statue is a local landmark and claim that several members of the commission should not have been allowed to vote because they have a conflict of interest.
While the group acknowledges Castleman’s Confederate ties, they argue that he later renounced his allegiance to the Confederacy. Castleman later served as a brigadier general in the United States Army. He was partly responsible for establishing Louisville’s park system and fought to keep the city’s parks and playgrounds open to black residents.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit. The appeals court ruled that there were “no facts to support the conflict of interest allegation”.
In an order issued earlier this month, the state Supreme Court said it would review the decision, a decision that has encouraged Friends of Louisville Public Art.
“We are very optimistic,” Steve Wiser, a member of the group’s executive committee, said in an email to the newspaper.
Sarah Martin, director of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office Civil Division, told the Courier Journal in an email that the office would file a brief in support of the statue’s removal.