Lexington Council Votes To Remove Confederate Statues

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Lexington Urban County Council voted unanimously on Aug. 17 to remove two Confederate statues from the county courthouse grounds.

The resolution was discussed after John Gray, the city's mayor, announced he intended to ask the council to vote on the issue following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

The statues are of John Breckinridge, who served as the Confederacy's secretary of war, and John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate general.

The debate on the issue lasted several hours and attracted an overflow crowd to the council chambers. Many people waited in the street outside to hear the result.

"Cities have recognized the need to stand up and tell the truth," Gray told the audience at the Aug. 17 meeting, according to the Herald Leader. "We must be adults today. Enough. Is. Enough."

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The vast majority of people spoke in favor of removing the statues, which are located at the former site of the largest slave market in the South. Four people spoke in opposition.

Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard indicated that no planned protests in opposition to removing the statues had been announced.

"Downtown patrols have been increased to 24 hours seven days a week," added Barnard. "We have plans in place."

The violence in Charlottesville occurred at a protest organized by white supremacists and neo-Nazis over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

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Herb Miller, who argued in favor of removing the statues, dismissed the idea that this would sanitize history.

"Leaving them in a public place of honor is also sanitizing history," he said.

The council's decision came on the same day as President Donald Trump defended the presence of Confederate statues in American cities.

"Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," Trump tweeted.

Polls on the issue of removing Confederate statues produce a mixed response from Americans, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Sixty-two percent of respondents to a NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist University poll said they thought Confederate statues across the country should be left standing as historical monuments.

Another poll by Economist/YouGov found that 48 percent thought the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville should be left where it is. Meanwhile, 30 percent said it should be removed, while 22 percent said they were not sure.

The Marist poll found that 86 percent of Americans disagree with the white supremacist movement and 94 percent disagree with the positions of the Ku Klux Klan.

Sources: Lexington Herald Leader, FiveThirtyEight / Featured Image: Bedford/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: C. Bedford Crenshaw/Wikimedia Commons, Seaman Connor Loessin/ Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

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