(Reuters) – Statues of two leaders of the Confederacy will be moved from public places in Lexington, Kentucky, to a cemetery where the men they represent are buried, an action that began quietly on Tuesday in the midst of a national debate about memorials to those who fought for the South in the U.S. Civil War.
The city council in August voted to remove the statues of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge, a U.S. vice president and Confederate secretary of war, the Lexington Herald Leader reported, showing video of the removal work that began without advance notice.
The Kentucky vote came soon after a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists angered at the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee clashed with counter-protesters.
The Kentucky statues, which have been in the city for about 130 years, will be taken to a private storage facility as the city works on an arrangement with the Lexington Cemetery about placing them there, it said.
The Lexington mayor’s office was not immediately available for comment.
Breckinridge and Morgan are buried at the cemetery, and private donors are providing funds to pay for the upkeep and security of the statues there, the newspaper reported.
Opponents of Confederate memorials view them as tributes to the South’s slave-holding past, while supporters argue that they represent an important part of history.
Kentucky was a slave-holding state at the time of the Civil War but it did not join the Confederacy.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz