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Public Comments on Jefferson Davis Statue In Kentucky Capitol Close This Week

Jefferson Davis

The chance for the public to comment on whether the state should keep a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the state Capitol rotunda closes on Wednesday.

Members of the Historic Properties Advisory Commission will then discuss findings at a special meeting held on Aug. 5.

The statue’s presence in the Capitol building has come under criticism in the wake of a mass shooting last month in a historically African American church in Charleston. Dylann Roof, the man accused in the shooting, was depicted holding a Confederate flag in photos posted online.

Prominent Kentucky officials including Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Jack Conway and leaders of both chambers of the state legislature have called for the removal of the statue.

On Thursday, Kentucky's parks department and state fair board voted to prohibit the sale of confederate flags.

On Friday afternoon, supporters of the statue and rallied on the Capitol steps in Frankfort.

“There are those who wish the annals of history to say Jefferson Davis did not work to honor their future or this great nation, and this statement is just not true,” said Hardin County deputy clerk Susan McCrobie said at the rally.

Before Davis became the president of the Confederacy, he served as the secretary of war during the Pearce administration and oversaw construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Berea Ernst, a student from Frankfort, showed up to the rally with a “Black Lives Matter” sign. Ernst said that the statue has no place in a public institution because of how many people find it offensive.

“Statues of the president of that government don’t belong in our public institutions, because they should represent all people,” Ernst said.

The statue was commissioned in 1932 using funds raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and a $5,000 appropriation from the Kentucky legislature.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission is in charge of the statues in the rotunda, which also includes figures of U.S. Senator Henry Clay, Vice President Alben Barkley and pioneer surgeon Ephraim McDowell.

Officials with the commission say they aren’t sure when a final decision on the statue will be made, but indicated they would try to have one by the time Beshear leaves office at the end of this year.

Public comments can be made at the Historic Properties Advisory Commission's website.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.