Vote to remove Jefferson Davis statue expected Friday; senator wants Brashear statue

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – At the lobbying of Gov. Andy Beshear, a state board is expected to vote Friday to remove the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol Rotunda.

Meanwhile, the National Guard will help counties that ask man voting precincts later this month and school districts will make the decision on school opening with guidance from the state Board of Education, which will start finalizing that guidance Monday.

In addition, Beshear said regulations on nursing homes will start to be eased late this month and in July. And the governor said civilian review boards could have a place in law enforcement.

“It is long past due that it be removed,” Beshear said of the statue, announcing the meeting of the State Advisory Historic Commission during his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday.

“It continues to be a symbol of the racism that has existed for too long…the Capitol should be a welcoming place for all…a place where no one is lesser,” the governor said.

The issue of the statue came up last week and Beshear has built momentum for its removal.

When asked Thursday whether his lobbying clouded the Commission’s vote, he said, “I call that leadership.”

Beshear did not appoint all the members.

He said the Commission still is acting independently, and noted he expects a “bipartisan vote” from the members to “do the right thing.”

Preparations already are being made, Beshear said, noting a ladder and measuring tape could be seen in the Rotunda where crews have been taking measurements.

“I don’t have a timeline, but I want it done quickly,” he said.

The statue will be moved to another location and saved. Beshear mentioned a park in Todd County as one possible location. As for the space where the Davis statue stands, the governor said the space could be left empty, another statue could be put in its place, or a series of statues could be rotated in and out.

“It is a symbol that divides us. I hope the discussion will remind us of the amazing leadership this state has had in the past…it will be a really fun process,” he said.

A state senator Thursday proposed a statue of Carl Brashear, the Tonieville, Ky. native who was the first African-American Navy diver and master diver who was the subject of the movie “Men of Honor,” be placed in the Rotunda.

Sen. Chris McDaniel pre-filed a bill to have the Davis statue removed and sent to either the Kentucky Historical Society or the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site.

“As I think about those values and aspirations, it is clear that the statue of Jefferson Davis falls short on every level,” McDaniel said. “Jefferson Davis was a man who did not claim Kentucky as his native state, and his crowning achievement was to serve as the head of a confederacy and a movement that cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their lives. However, it is easy to tear things down and have ideas about what not to do. It’s harder to build things and have ideas about what you should do. For that reason, I am not willing to let my bill stand just to remove one statue. I will also recommend a replacement for this statue.”

McDaniel proposed honoring Brashear, who “rose from abject poverty, joined the military, and overcame illiteracy, racism, disability, alcohol addiction, and trials unknown to the average person. He led a life that all of us can be proud to tell our children about when we bring them through these hallowed halls.”

The pre-filed legislation would appropriate $500,000 for the commissioning and erection of the statue in the Capitol Rotunda. 

McDaniel, a Republican from Taylor Mill, represents the 23rd District which is comprised of northern Kenton County.  He serves as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee and co-chairman of the Area Development District Working Group and the 2020-2022 Budget Preparation and Submission Statutory Committee.

The governor also released the latest coronavirus numbers but warned “not to put much stock” in them because a glitch in the national computer system meant many positive and negative cases weren’t reported.

With 69 new cases, the state now has 11,945 since early March. Beshear said he would average Thursday’s numbers with Friday’s when those are released.

A total of 308786 people have been tested, 514 remain in the hospital and 81 are in ICU. A total of 3,379 have recovered, but Beshear said that number is incomplete.

“That’s only the ones that have been reported to us. We are sure there are far more than that,” he said.

Of the new cases, 14 are in Fayette, seven in Jefferson, two in Pulaski, and one each in Estill, Harrison, Mercer, Madison, Wayne and Woodford counties, among others.

The governor also reported nine new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 493. The deaths included three people at a long-term care facility in Boone County, two people in Jefferson and Kenton counties and one each Fayette and Gallatin counties.

On other issues:

— Beshear said adult day care centers would reopen June 29 as will congregate dining facilities at long-term care facilities. He said visitation rules at long-term care locations would be eased starting July 15;

— The National Guard has volunteered to help counties who request it man polling places on election day June 23. The Guard has the manpower and it could limit vulnerable population poll workers from potentially being exposed to the coronavirus;

— When asked about the issue and a request by the NAACP to order the use, Beshear said civilian review boards could play a role in reviewing police departments. “They can be an important tool,” he said, noting the makeup of such boards would be important and as would insuring “an opportunity for a dialogue between law enforcement and the people.”




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