By Steve Bittenbender
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - The city of Louisville, Kentucky, can remove a 121-year-old monument to Confederate soldiers that critics have objected to as an emblem of slavery, a state judge ruled on Wednesday.
In a ruling from the bench, Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman dissolved her temporary order from three weeks ago that had blocked the city and a local university from taking down the monument.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he would work on relocating the 70-foot-high (21-metre) monument after getting the judge's written order, according to a statement from his office.
A diversity committee at the University of Louisville had pushed for the monument to come down, joining a national push to remove public symbols of the Confederacy seen by critics as fostering racism.
Some local residents and descendants of Confederate soldiers sued to keep the monument at its location near the University of Louisville, calling it a symbol of the South's history and culture.
Ed Springston, one of the individuals who sued the city, said he would appeal the ruling.
"At the end of the day, yes, we'll go forward with appeals or whatever we need to do to make sure that this monument is protected," Springston said in a telephone interview.
Fischer and University of Louisville President James Ramsey said in April they would move the monument commemorating Kentuckians who died serving the Confederacy, the slaveholding states that seceded from the United States, leading to the 1861-1865 American Civil War.
Kentucky, the birthplace of both U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who led the Union, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, did not secede from the Union, but Kentuckians fought on both sides.
(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Ky. and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)