State panel votes to strip 'patriot' plaque from Jefferson Davis - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State panel votes to strip 'patriot' plaque from Jefferson Davis statue in Kentucky Capitol

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A committee reviewing monuments in the state Capitol rotunda recommended Thursday that Kentucky remove a plaque on a statue of Jefferson Davis labeling the Confederacy's lone president as a "PATRIOT-HERO-STATESMAN." 

The move comes amid a renewed debate over the Davis statue that has included calls by African-American leaders and others for its outright removal. 

The review panel, meeting for the first time since it was established in July to provide better historical context for the statues in the rotunda, unanimously endorsed that the plaque be taken down. 

"It does read as a subjective statement, rather than a factual statement," said chairman Craig Potts, Kentucky's historic preservation officer. He noted that no other statues in the rotunda have similar descriptive signs.

The state's Historic Properties Advisory Commission, which appointed the review panel, plans to take up the recommendation at its October 24 meeting. Its chairman, Steve Collins, said he expects there will be support.for the plaque's removal.

"You had a unanimous vote in the committee," he told reporters. "And so I think there's really a great likelihood that it will pass."

If it is stripped from the statue, the plaque would be given to the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort. 

Communities across the U.S. have revisited the symbolism and relevance of statues linked to the Confederacy after last month's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where marchers opposed plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.  A 32-year-old woman was killed when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

In Kentucky, a group of African-American leaders has called on Gov. Matt Bevin to take down the Davis statue. The 15-foot-tall, marble piece was erected in the 1930s with state assistance. 

At a rally last month at the Capitol, a series of speakers tied the statue of Davis to racism and slavery and called for it to be relocated to a museum or history center. Kentucky State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said he would file a bill to remove it if the statue is still standing when the legislature convenes in January. 

Taking off the plaque would be "a step in the right direction," Neal said Thursday. But he called on the review panel to "take that next vote and remove that statue and put it where it belongs -- in a museum or a cemetery or somewhere else outside the rotunda, which is our symbolic center of government."

Among those voting to take down the plaque was Ron Sydnor, the retired park manager of the Davis state historic site in nearby Fairview, Ky. In his view, the labels refer to Davis' service in elected and appointed U.S. government positions before the Civil War.

"Those three words--that's what they represent for me," said Sydnor, who is African American. "But I also understand what other people look at them to represent. So I have no problem with that (plaque) being moved." 

RELATED: SUNDAY EDITION | Kentucky renews ‘sometimes rancorous’ debate on Confederate monuments

RELATED: Castleman statue dominates Louisville meeting on public art 

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