Ohio Confederate monument removed overnight

Published: Aug. 16, 2017 at 8:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2017 at 9:26 AM EDT
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The Robert E. Lee monument was moved overnight, a police dispatcher confirms. (FOX19 NOW/Jordan...
The Robert E. Lee monument was moved overnight, a police dispatcher confirms. (FOX19 NOW/Jordan Vilines

FRANKLIN, OH (FOX19) - A Confederate monument was moved overnight.

Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf, who also is the acting city manager of this Warren County community, said public works crews were told to remove the Robert E. Lee memorial Wednesday night from a patch of grass at Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road.

"The monument was removed overnight to assure the safety of the crews performing the work, as well as to secure the monument from potential damage," he wrote in a statement released early Thursday.

"The monument is intact. It was not initially clear if our crews would be able to remove the marker due to its size. When public works crews determined the work could be performed within the safe working limits of our equipment, the work proceeded."

The monument sparked debate between two neighboring communities Wednesday.

Dozens of Confederate monuments are coming down around the country in light of a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

But instead of permanently dismantling their monument, Franklin city officials announced on Wednesday they planned to give it to neighboring Franklin Township - its original owner.

The relocation of the monument upset some residents.

"I don't understand... I don't know why its to appease certain groups. It's not blocking the right of way," said Kevin Rickard.

The monument sits on land that has only been owned by the city since the 1990s.

The Robert E. Lee plaque was dedicated in 1927, when the township still owned that property.

"The City of Franklin has notified our Township neighbors that our crews will remove the monument and return their property to their selected location forthwith," Westendorf wrote in a statement Wednesday night.

The plaque is mounted on a giant rock erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Friends.

Until recently, the historical monument has never been cause for concern or debate, township trustees noted.

"Whether events of the past may have been celebratory or unpleasant, it is important that we remember the culmination of all such events is what has transpired and shaped this great nation, including Franklin Township," wrote Trustee Traci Stivers said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

The Warren County monument is one of four memorials to confederate soldiers in Ohio.

  • Confederate Capt. William C. Quantrill's grave is marked with a memorial in Dover in Tuscarawas County. Capt. Quantrill was originally buried in Kentucky, but his remains were moved to Dover in 1887.
  • A monument in Columbus at the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery marks the site where 2260 Confederate soldiers are buried. The monument was erected in 1902.
  • A Confederate monument was erected on Johnson's Island in Lake Erie, north of Sandusky. The monument was built in 1910 and marks the location of a former Confederate prison site. More than 200 Confederate officers are buried in a cemetery on the island, according to the National Park Service. A statue of a Confederate soldier looks out over the graves.

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