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.
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.