Mayor Follows Through To Remove Confederate Statues

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Kentucky Mayor Jim Gray followed through on his promise from August to remove Confederate statues when local authorities successfully covered with tarps and transported two statues from public lawns to a cemetery.

"Today's events in Virginia remind us that we must bring our country together by condemning violence, white supremacists and Nazi hate groups," Gray wrote on Twitter.

The plan to have the statues removed was announced shortly after the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, following a white supremacist rally in which one of the participants ran down counter-protesters.

He wrote in a series of tweets reported by CNN that the Nazi hate groups and white supremacists "cannot define our future."

Police blocked off city streets and kept spectators at bay while workers readied a crane to remove the statue of John C. Breckinridge, the 14th and youngest ever vice president of the United States -- and he owned slaves.

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Social media was lighting up with activity from viewers who filmed the removal of the controversial statue and erupted with applause throughout the removal process, reports the Lexington Herald.

The city conducted an investigation with the attorney general's office into the granting of authority over local monuments to the Military Heritage Commission in 2003.

“That action wasn’t lawful, and it is void. The Attorney General confirmed our finding this morning. That means our local authority remains intact; this is a local decision, as it should be. This council has unanimously supported moving the statues to the Lexington Cemetery. The cemetery trustees have voiced their conditional approval. That’s what we intend to do,” Gray said in a statement.

Gray wasn't alone in his disapproval of the Confederate relics; however, he has been one of only a few to have any success. In Tennessee, efforts to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate soldier who started the Ku Klux Klan began in 2015 but were thwarted by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act that passed in 2016, reports the New York Times.

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The push to remove Confederate symbols at that time was following the mass shooting of black church members by white supremacist Dylan Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Then Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina was applauded by Trump at the time -- before he was president -- for moving to ban and remove Confederate flags and monuments from the state following the massacre.

“I think they should put it in the museum, let it go, respect whatever it is that you have to respect, because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum,” Trump said to reporters, according to The New York Times.

The second statue removed from Lexington was that of Confederate Gen. John C. Hunt, around midnight on Oct. 18.

The Lexington Herald reported that the crowd cheered as the statue was lifted onto a flatbed truck, where it was transported with Breckinridge to a private storage facility until plans are finalized with the cemeteries

Sources: Lexington Herald Leader, CNN, The New York Times / Featured Image: edward stojakovic/Flickr / Embedded Images: Anthony Crider/Flickrm01229/Flickr

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