MURRAY – The Murray City Council presented a united front Thursday evening, unanimously approving a resolution calling for the Calloway County Fiscal Court to support the removal of the Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn.
County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes has said the fiscal court will consider the matter at a later date. Because the monument is on county property, the court has considerably more power in this matter than the council. The statue, located on the northeast corner of the court square, is in the likeness of the Confederate States of America’s top-ranking military officer, Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“In the last two to three weeks, the statue of Jefferson Davis, a Kentucky-born leader of the Confederacy, has been removed from the State Capitol,” Councilman Dan Miller said before the 12-0 vote. “And the birthplace of the Confederacy – Charleston, South Carolina – recently removed the statue of John C. Calhoun, who is probably the most outspoken political figure for the Confederacy. If those two cities, where those two people lived, or the states where those two people grew up, can take those statues down, then certainly the fiscal court needs to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee, who not only never set foot in Calloway County, he never set foot in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Thank you.”
The resolution was drafted by a committee that was formed after the previous council meeting two weeks earlier. Mayor Bob Rogers said the committee consisted of council members Danny Hudspeth, Linda Cherry, Wesley Bolen and Rose Ross Elder.
Elder read the document.
“Whereas, monuments to Confederate solders and military leaders, which were installed in Calloway County and many other communities in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Southerners seeking to preserve the ideology of the Confederacy, are widely perceived as offensive and painful public reminders of the legacy of slavery and present realities of systemic racism in our country; and whereas, a memorial monument known as the “Confederate Soldier” in the likeness of Robert E. Lee is located at the county courthouse; and whereas, monuments of the Confederacy along with streets, schools and other public places named for prominent members of the Confederacy have continued to be symbols of the refusal of some to allow full and equal participation in society by Americans of African ancestry; and whereas, the City of Murray recognizes that the legacy of slavery and ongoing systemic racism directly harm public safety and public health; and whereas, the Confederate statue located ion the northeast corner of the Calloway County Courthouse property has been placed on the list for the Military Heritage Commission and the National Historic Society and that its removal and/or relocation can be requested by the Calloway County Fiscal Court to secure the statutes, preservation and relocation; and whereas, the City of Murray is committed to promoting racial equity and justice, and desire to express the commitment through a resolution.”
Many of the council members spoke on the matter before the vote. Several of them remarked how they have engaged in very in-depth communications with citizens about this issue, both through emails and on social media. Councilman Terry Strieter said his Facebook page has had more than 5,200 different people post about the subject.
In asking for the removal of the statue, there also appeared to be support for the monument being treated with respect, should it be removed.
“There is a difference in remove and destroy,” said Councilwoman Alice Rouse. “I think by us drafting this resolution tonight, we recommend that it be removed and preserved. I think that’s an honorable decision.”
While resolutions, for the most part, do not bring about orders and actions, there were a couple of other resolutions passed unanimously Thursday where this is not the case. They authorized pursuit of a pair of key projects for the city.
The first authorizes Rogers to begin appropriate steps to apply for federal funds flowing through state government to help the city reimburse costs it has incurred since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. City Administrator Jim Osborne said Thursday that these funds are for specific amounts for each city that applies and are not, in his words, “competitive.” Osborne also described the amounts as “significant.”
Also, the council approved a resolution to act on the contract to begin bids for the wayfinding signs the Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau and others have been seeking the past four years.