Group claiming ownership of Confederate statue in Owensboro files lawsuit

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – More controversy involving a controversial monument in Daviess County, Kentucky.

A Confederate statue sitting outside the courthouse has been the focus of a lot of discussion in recent years. County officials recently voted to move it, but at least one group says the county does not have that right. That group has filed a lawsuit claiming it, not the county, owns the statue and controls its future.

After last year’s debate over if the statue should stay outside the Daviess County Courthouse, the debate over who really owns it goes to court.

“Our response will be that we own it,” said Claud Porter, Daviess County Attorney.

“Everybody can make claims, which is fine, I like to see the proof,” says Nicholas Goetz, a lawyer representing the Kentucky Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Copy of complaint filed by Kentucky Division of United Daughters of the Confederacy against Daviess County officials.

The group filed suit against the Daviess County Fiscal Court asking a judge to order the county to return the statue to them, and prevent the county from relocating the statue on their own. Goetz also says the Kentucky UDC has their own plans to move it elsewhere.

“We don’t want to have to touch the property twice. We don’t want to relocate it from the courthouse to somewhere else that we have to relocate it from. We want to relocate it once,” he said.

Goetz says there’s no paperwork showing the county owns the statue, adding an agreement from 1893 with the county allowed the group to build the statue, and it shows no sign the county owns it.
“It concerns the county given permission to erect the monument. It doesn’t say anything about it being a gift or being transferred to the county,” Goetz explained.

The group also claims its ownership is reinforced through its Artifact and Monumentary Inventory filings with the state. A committee appointed by the fiscal court recommended the statue be moved to one of two museums in Owensboro, but the city, who control both museums, says it does not want the statue. Porter says the statue is listed as publicly owned on the national register of historic places, and that the county’s maintained it.

“It’s been on the county’s property for well over a hundred years. We’ve maintained it, we insure it, we list it as owned by the county,” he said.

Porter adds they plan to file a response, and that the county’s still talking with an unnamed third party on a possible new site for the statue. A hearing is scheduled for May 11th.

(This story was originally published on April 21, 2021)

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