A Kentucky judge issued a restraining order on Monday preventing city officials from removing a 70-foot-tall Confederate statue from its site near the University of Louisville campus, after one critic equated its removal to “a book burning.”
The order was filed by a colorful cast of characters including GOP congressional candidate Everett Corley and the “Chief of Heritage Defense” for the Kentucky Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Corley, who was endorsed in a failed 2014 House bid by the white nationalist American Freedom Party and is currently running in the GOP primary to challenge Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), told the paper that the restraining order was “about respecting veterans.”
Removing the statue, Corley told the Courier-Journal, was a “political version of book burning. And the fact is, I’m not in favor of book burning.”
Thomas McAdam, an attorney for the plaintiffs, also accused Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the University of Louisville of censorship.
“All we want is a fair hearing, all we want is to let the people know that this is part of our heritage, and you can’t just erase history by tearing down monuments,” McAdam told the Courier-Journal. “That’s what the Taliban does, that’s what ISIS does. We don’t do that in America.”
Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman agreed.
“The Court finds that the plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if, during the pendency of this litigation, Defendants are allowed to continue with their stated plan to dismantle and remove the Confederate Monument from its present location,” she wrote in the order against Fisher, the city government and university president James Ramsey, according to the newspaper.
As a result, the statue commemorating Confederate veterans cannot be removed, disassembled, or displaced.
The plaintiffs hope to turn the restraining order into a permanent injunction to preserve the statue, which was completed in 1895.
Fischer told the newspaper they will continue to navigate the statue’s removal through the courts.