LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The statue of a Kentucky newspaper editor whose anti-immigrant editorials were blamed for instigating a deadly Election Day riot is being removed from Louisville's main public library.
The Courier Journal reported that the city of Louisville was moving the statue of George Dennison Prentice to a storage facility on Tuesday.
The statue has been vandalized twice since the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mayor Greg Fischer said the Louisville Journal founder pushed a message "that led to the 1855 Bloody Monday riot where at least 22 people were killed." He said the Prentice statue doesn't belong outside the library, where education, inclusiveness and compassion are fostered.
Prentice repeatedly called on people to rally against the "most pestilent influence of the foreign swarms" ahead of that year's election. Protestant mobs with the nativist "Know-Nothing Party" then kept German and Irish Catholic immigrants from voting for Democrats, and then set their neighborhoods on fire, prompting many people to flee Louisville. The economy suffered for years thereafter.
Other "Know-Nothing" riots broke out across the county in those years, part of a larger pattern of anti-immigrant politics before the Civil War.
"You could pull out 'Catholic' in the 1850s language and substitute 'Muslim' or 'Mexican' and it would sound similar to what we're hearing today," said A. Glenn Crothers, an associate professor of history at the University of Louisville.
The statue's fate is undetermined. The city says Prentice's burial place, Cave Hill Cemetery, wouldn't take it.