LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A statue of the man who gave Louisville its name has been removed from the city square - for now.

What You Need To Know

  • King Louis XVI statue removed from downtown Louisville

  • Removal due to public safety concerns

  • Statue to be taken to city storage facility

  • Future plans to be determined after conservation assessment

Just after sunrise Thursday, after spending more than three months as a regular target of protesters, the statue of King Louis had straps placed around it by workers and, over the course of three hours, was staged and slowly lifted through the air and onto a flatbed truck.

Sitting on the site of the first protests for racial justice in the city on May 28, the fixture was an early target of vandalism. Graffiti has repeatedly been sprayed on the marble and, during the first night of protests, cameras caught a person standing on the base of the statue, hanging onto Louis' outstretched right hand until it suddenly snapped off, sending the new owner falling.

With his heighness sporting one hand and a figure full of spray paint for more than three months, the mayor's office had seen enough. 

In a press release Thursday morning, a spokesperson wrote, Given the statue’s damaged condition, officials are concerned about further destruction, causing potential injury to people in the area. 

They went on to say that additional damage had been discovered, and it could not be reasonably cleaned and restored on site. 

The statue is being held at a city storage facility, and conservation assessment will determine its future.

Little more than a dozen bystanders came to film the removal while Spectrum News was on site. One man held a bullhorn and repeatedly said, "Take it down!" to all who would listen.

Louisville native Angee Dee livestreamed much of the removal. She told Spectrum News she, too, was happy to see it happen.

"I think it’s something that needed to be done. A lot needs to be done; a lot more needs to be done. They need to start taking people like that out of office."

She pointed at the airborne statue as she finished her sentence. 

The removal of the King Louis statue was not the result of direct protest or petition, as with that of John Castleman, a confederate-turned-US army officer who faught to uphold slavery, and then also birthed Louisville's parks system. After years of debate, his monument was removed from Cherokee Triangle in June.

Though his motives were likely more anti-British than pro-American, Louis supported the American revolution while on the throne, and was so revered for his support that Louisville was named after him in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. 

He fell victim to his own country's revolution in 1792.