Politicians opine on moving Confederate monuments at Kentucky State Fair kick-off breakfast

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's political leaders served up thoughts on the moving of Confederate monuments, as the State Fair kicked off with the traditional commodities breakfast.

The breakfast is an opportunity for politicians to serve up some good will along with Kentucky Pride Products. But with concern growing over white supremacy groups, they acknowledged good will seems harder to find on the menu.

"There is no room for racial intolerance in this state. There just isn't," said Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin said any effort by hate groups to cause trouble over Lexington's plan to remove Confederate statues will be met with the kind of police presence as a white nationalist rally in eastern Kentucky earlier this year.

"We had a presence that made clear there was not going to be any of this clashing and interaction," Bevin told reporters. "We were going to have zero tolerance for mayhem."

Bevin said he supports community conversations about the future of Confederate monuments, but warned against moving too quickly.

"That, to me, is ultimately the most critical thing to remember, is that we've got to remember where we came from," he said.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles agreed with Bevin's deliberative approach to the monuments, but also condemned white nationalist groups.

"I think we need to have a serious conversation about this, but also make sure that we call out those that are starting the fight," said Quarles.

But some of Bevin's fellow Republicans, such as State Treasurer Allison Ball, have split with the governor on this issue. Ball told WDRB it is time for monuments such as the Jefferson Davis statue in the Capitol Rotunda to go.

"Right now, this is an appropriate time to make a statement on that. We want to be unified, we want to value people, and this is a good time to be making that kind of statement," said Ball.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the only statewide elected Democrat who attended the breakfast, said she has long supported removing Confederate monuments.

"Those monuments, we have no place for such idols, especially at the center of government, let alone throughout our cities and counties," said Grimes.

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, the only statewide elected African American official, declined WDRB’s request for an interview.

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