IMAGES | 2 historic statues vandalized before Public Art Advisory Committee's first meeting
A spokesman for the library has a message for the vandals.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two statues were vandalized in Louisville overnight.
A reddish-orange-colored substance was poured over a statue of George D. Prentice, located in front of the Louisville Free Public Library near the intersection of South Third and York Streets.
And for the second time since August, the John B. Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle was vandalized.
Paul Burns, the communications director for the Louisville Free Public Library, says library staff discovered the vandalism when they arrived Wednesday morning.
He says he's not surprised the statue has drawn ire.
"Prentice is certainly a controversial figure in Louisville's history, and the statue here has been mentioned in the debate about public monuments anyway, and tonight the commission is actually meeting here for the first time -- its first public meeting -- at 5 p.m. at the main library, so I’m sure that there’s no coincidence that Mr. Prentice was vandalized this morning," he said.
Prentice was a Louisville newspaper editor who was critical of immigration and Catholic beliefs. His editorials were linked to the violence of "Bloody Monday," a "travesty whose stain was pressed deep upon the history of the city and upon the reputation and character of George D. Prentice," according to The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Twenty-two people died in the riot that targeted Irish and German immigrants.
The commission Burns was called by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to discuss public monuments in the city of Louisville in the wake of racial tension after the Charlottesville attack, when a man drove a vehicle into a crowd of people who were protesting a white nationalist rally last August.
That said, Burns had a message for whoever vandalized the statue.
"Certainly we need to have discussions about these monuments and their place in our society," he said. "Vandalism is never the way that we should start that conversation, or end that conversation. We're going to have to pay to clean this statue up, and unfortunately, that’s a cost that we did not plan to incur. So, we just have to deal with it."
That means taxpayers are ultimately going to have to foot the bill, Burns said.
"It's gonna come out of the library's budget, and the library is city-funded, so that's something where we now can't provide other services and we can't clean up other things that need to be done because we have to deal with this," he said.
The Castleman statue in Louisville's Cherokee Triangle has been there since 1913. According to the plaque on the monument, Castleman was a Confederate officer during the Civil War and later served in the U.S. Army years after as a Brigadier General.
Castleman was also a pioneer for Louisville's original Olmsted Parks.
The committee has received more than 1,000 written comments it plans to discuss at future meetings.
Committee members agreed to meet four to six times in different parts of the city before it makes a recommendation.
Fischer issued a statement about the vandalism Wednesday morning:
"In a diverse community like ours, people are going to have differing viewpoints, but vandalism is not the way to share those views. It is costly, divisive and ultimately ineffective since it basically is a one-way conversation. We have initiated a community dialogue about public art, including a meeting of our new Public Art Advisory Committee tonight at the Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. I'd ask citizens to share your views in public, with each other, through opportunities like this, including an online option. Let's talk with each other, not at each other."
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