ST. LOUIS (AP) — The city of St. Louis will be temporarily prevented from removing a Confederate monument from a city park after a circuit court judge issued an injunction until a hearing is held next month to determine who owns the structure.
St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robert Dierker on Monday issued the injunction and set a July 6 hearing for arguments over whether the city or the Missouri Civil War Museum owns the 38-foot-tall granite monument, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/2tGMt3s ).
The injunction comes after the museum filed a lawsuit Friday against the city, contending the United Daughters of the Confederacy signed over ownership rights to the museum last week.
Dierker’s ruling came as city workers were installing steel rigging on the structure Monday, in preparation for removing the monument. Because the city has already incurred removal costs, including more than $25,000 for a crane to remove the largest piece of the monument Tuesday, the restraining order is contingent on the museum putting up a $10,000 bond.
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The lawsuit comes as several other cities across the country are removing or considering removing Confederate monuments and statues. Critics of the monuments say they honor racism and slavery, while those who want them to remain contend they are part of the nation’s history and honor Civil War veterans.
The St. Louis monument, erected in 1914, depicts a Confederate soldier leaving his family for the Civil War. An angel hovers above them.
Koran Addo, a spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, said last week that the city planned to store the monument while it considers proposals from parties interested in displaying it — including any proposal from the museum.
Attorneys from the museum argued Monday that civil war experts who are used to handling artifacts are better equipped to moving the memorial. Attorney Jay Kanzler said the museum is ready to move the monument now, if the city would simply approve.
Attorneys for the city expressed doubt the museum had raised enough private money to take down the memorial immediately and called the ownership claim a political stunt.
Trout said Monday the museum has raised more than $15,000 for removal costs so far.
“No matter who you side with, they want it removed,” said St. Louis City Counselor Michael Garvin. “There is no need for an injunction here.”
But Judge Dierker said while he hopes the city and museum could compromise on how to remove the monument “It’s by no means clear who owns this thing.”