ST. LOUIS — St. Louis officials and the Missouri Civil War Museum are fighting over who owns a divisive Confederate monument.

The museum’s executive director, Mark Trout, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2tqoeX9 ) that the United Daughters of the Confederacy signed over the monument rights to the museum on Tuesday.

He said the group was allowed to build and maintain the monument in Forest Park, the city’s largest public park, thanks to a 1912 city ordinance.

“It’s the same deed of gift form that we require for any artifact,” Trout said.

But city officials said the city has control over the structure and its removal from the park.

The museum also tried to gain control over the monument in 2015, when former Mayor Francis Slay formed a committee to explore the possibility of moving the statue. In letters to the committee, Trout asked the city to “relinquish its current responsibility and liability” of preserving the monument and transfer ownership to the museum.

A deal never came to fruition after the city said it wanted a say in how the monument would be displayed in the future. The city’s current mayor, Lyda Krewson, feels the same way, according to her spokesman, Koran Addo.

“If you’re taking it down because you consider it offensive … you don’t want it to go to a place where it would be celebrated,” Addo said Wednesday.

Trout said the museum won’t allow the city to influence how the memorial would be featured.

“There is not a museum in this world that doesn’t have some sort of controversial, divisive item or artifact in their collections. That’s part of preserving history,” he said. “The moment we have governments telling museums how and why they can do things, we’re in trouble.”

Trout said the museum would consider legal action if the city doesn’t forfeit the monument.

St. Louis has talked about taking down the monument since 2015. Other Confederate monuments nationwide have sparked similar debate. Krewson said taking down the 38-foot structure would help the community move forward.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com