Lexington begins removing Confederate statues downtown

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The City of Lexington has begun removing two Confederate statues from downtown.

Tuesday night crane equipment was moved-in to begin the removal of the John C. Breckinridge statue from the lawn of the old courthouse.

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The city issued a statement to ABC 36 News Tuesday evening saying that Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear issued an opinion that the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission does not have jurisdiction over the statues.

The city said previously the commission had to approve the removal of the Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan statues.  The mayor even talked about asking the commission to move-up its next scheduled meeting, which wasn’t set until November.

After Attorney General Beshear’s opinion, the city began the removal process.

“We discovered the City Council did not authorize the Mayor to give up local authority to the state 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,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

The move and eventual relocation of the two statues is largely being donated and paid for with private money, according to the city.

Last month the board of the Lexington Cemetery tentatively agreed to accept the statues, under certain conditions, which included someone covering the cost of upkeep and security.   Private donors established an endowment to pay for the upkeep and security.

The statues will be moved to a private storage facility until the agreement with the cemetery can be finalized, according to the city.

Both Breckinridge and Morgan are buried in the Lexington Cemetery.

John C. Breckinridge was Vice President of the United States and Confederate Secretary of War.  John Hunt Morgan was a Confederate General.

 

 

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.