LEXINGTON, KY (CBSMiami) — Communities across the south are taking a critical look at Confederate monuments, and in some cases, are tearing them down, causing emotions to run high.
The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky is moving quickly to relocate two Confederate monuments from outside a historic former courthouse, following Saturday’s deadly violence in Charlottesville.
“Mayors are on the razor’s edge. When you see the tension. When you see the violence that we saw in Charlottesville, then you know that we must act,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
The Lexington monuments were built near the historic site of one of the country’s largest slave auction blocks.
“I don’t think it’s right… that we would honor and glorify Confederate men who fought to preserve slavery. And honor them on the very grounds that slaves were once sold at auction,” said Gray.
But he is likely to face strong opposition.
After the city of Charlottesville approved the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee earlier this year, it was targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalists.
In New Orleans, city leaders faced two years of court battles and a handful of violent protests over their plan to remove four confederate landmarks.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has found 1,500 symbols or places that pay homage to confederate leaders and says there have been at least 100 state and local attempts to remove the monuments or provide more historical context.
Some who want the monuments to stay say removing them is erasing an important part of the country’s past and see them as landmarks throughout the South.
“I don’t see any issues. I think they ought to just leave them alone and leave them where they are. They’re part of history,” said resident Don Martina.
Kentucky citizens fought on both sides of the Civil War, which is why the mayor wants the statues to stand nearby their union counterparts in a park.