By Kyeland Jackson —
The debate between Pan-African Studies Chair Ricky Jones and statue advocates quickly inflamed today during a forum on the Confederate minument adjacent to campus.
Meeting downtown as part of the louisville forum series, the panel gathered Jones, activist Ed Springston and preservationist Martina Kunnecke to debate the statue’s removal. District Six Councilman David James, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, Everett Corley and plaintiff attorneys in favor of leaving the statue were in attendance.
After opening statements, the debate sparked as Jones and Springston defended intentions behind the debate. Jones defended against claims calling him a terrorist online, blaming the aggression on possibly racist motivations.
“To call me or my people terrorists, or terrorists sympathizers…that is one of the greatest erasures of history ever,” Jones said.
Springston denied claims that he and fellow plaintiffs were racist, saying “It has nothing to do with white or black,” and that they filed the suit against Mayor Greg Fischer to preserve history.
Springston noted increasing progressive actions in Louisville, saying they have contributed to attempts to erase history. Kunnecke also defended the statue, saying she is “appalled” by the number of historical monuments in Louisville being torn down, and believes the statue removal distracts from the real issues.
“Sometimes we give more credence to grandstanding and sort of ‘frosting on the cake’ type of events to cover up real issues,” Kunnecke said after the panel. “We’re still living under terrorism…It’s an economic terrorism. Dr. Jones, where were you when we started fighting those battles?”
After the panel, Corley apologized to Jones for a inflammatory remark made after the May 25 court case. His remark, calling Jones “a damn dirty black bastard,” prompted Corley’s lawyers to petition removing him as their client.
“What I said to you was inexcusable and inappropriate. I do want to apologize to you,” Corley said. “Saying I’m sorry is the hardest two words people can say in this world today.”
“As my grandmother said ‘ we all need too much forgiveness not to give it to those who ask for it'” Jones said. “It’s not personal. It’s never personal for me.”
The judge removed the restraining order on Mayor Fischer during the May 25 court case, allowing the city to move the statue. While the statue can be removed at any time, O’Connell said the city will wait until the judge’s written order is issued.