KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Crews on Monday began dismantling a divisive Confederate monument in a sprawling park near downtown St. Louis after the city and the Missouri Civil War Museum reached an agreement to have it moved.
As part of the deal, the museum will pay for the removal of the 38-foot-tall, 103-year-old granite monument, which depicts a Confederate soldier leaving his family for the Civil War with an angel hovering above them. It must be removed by Friday, and the museum will store it until a new permanent site — a Civil War museum, battlefield or cemetery outside of St. Louis County — can be found.
The agreement came a week after a judge issued a temporary injunction barring the city from removing the monument, pending a hearing over its ownership. The museum had sued the city, insisting the United Daughters of the Confederacy recently had signed over ownership rights to the museum — a claim the city cast as a political stunt.
The city said in a statement that while it was confident it would have prevailed in court, "both parties wanted" Monday's settlement, which averts drawn-out litigation and hastens the monument's exodus.
"This issue has played out for far too long," Mayor Lyda Krewson said in the statement. "This settlement agreement is the best way to move forward and put this issue behind us."
The museum said the monument will go into protective storage for an unspecified period until it can be restored, then be reassembled at "an appropriate historic setting."
The settlement comes amid efforts to remove Confederate monuments in several U.S. cities. Critics say the monuments honor racism and slavery, while monument defenders contend they are part of the nation's history and honor Civil War veterans.
Since the 2014 killing by police of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in nearby Ferguson, the St. Louis monument has been spray-painted with messages like "Black Lives Matter" and "End Racism." And it has been the site of protests in recent weeks.