- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2017

The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, said his push to remove two Confederate-era statues from the lawn of the former Fayette County Courthouse, the city’s future visitor’s center, has been accelerated in light of violent protests that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement Saturday that he will ask the Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Council to support a petition asking a state military commission for permission to move the statues of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge from the courthouse lawn to Veterans Park, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Mr. Gray’s announcement came the same day that violence broke out in Charlottesville during clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters.

A 32-year-old woman was killed and more than a dozen others injured when a car crashed into a crowd in an incident that is now being investigated by the FBI and Department of Justice. Two Virginia State Police troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash near the protests, which were spurred by the planned removal of a 1924 statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“Today’s events in Virginia remind us that we must bring our country together by condemning violence, white supremacists and Nazi hate groups,” Mr. Gray tweeted Saturday. “We cannot let them define our future.

“I am taking action to relocate the Confederate statues. We have thoroughly examined this issue, and heard from many of our citizens,” he wrote. “The tragic events in Charlottesville today have accelerated the announcement I intended to make next week.”

Vice Mayor Steve Kay said late Saturday that the 15-member council is expected to support the petition.

“I think this is a good solution and the right thing to do,” he told the Herald-Leader. “I think moving the statues to Veterans Park will allow the city to still honor history. But we will also be able to add additional signage to give the statues the appropriate context and explain how they came to be and what was going on in Lexington at that time.”

In addition to getting the military commission’s approval, the city needs to come up with the funds to move the historic monuments.

“We’ll find the money. This needs to be done,” Mr. Kay told the Herald-Leader.

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