A statue of Thomas Jefferson has been taken down from City Hall after 187 years.
On Monday, November 22, the 884-pound statue was packed away after a majority voted for it to be taken down in a mayoral commission.
It took several hours and around a dozen workers from Marshall Fine Arts for the monument to be removed from the City Council chambers in New York.
The statue of the Founding Father had been on display since 1833, until conflict around the statue’s presence arose due to Jefferson’s links to the slave trade.
The press was initially blocked from seeing the statue’s removal by Keri Butler, the executive director of the Public Design Commission, despite his vote to have it taken down. However, the City Council and members of the mayor’s office revoked the attempted obstruction, New York Post reports.
A public hearing was not initially planned to discuss the vote for the statue’s removal, however after The Post revealed the commission’s attempt to vote without one, a hearing was eventually organised.
Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Erin Thompson, said:
Removing a monument without a public conversation about why it’s happening is useless. New Yorkers all need to talk about who we want to honor and why.
Thompson, who has written the upcoming novel, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monument, noted the wider historical discussion that could occur as a result of the Jefferson statue’s removal.
He explained how just because the statue has been taken down, it ‘doesn’t mean New Yorkers will forget who Thomas Jefferson was – but some of them might learn from the controversy that the man who wrote ‘all men are created equal’ owned over 600 of his fellow humans’.
The statue’s removal from the City Chambers caused a divide between members of the City Council. It was branded as an attempt to ‘side-line history’ by minority leader Joe Borelli, compared to I. Daneek Miller, Black, Latino and Asian co-chair, who voted for its removal on the basis of it not reflecting more modern values.
The Jefferson statue which was formerly located in City Hall was a plastic replica of an original by sculptor Pierre-Jean David, which can be seen in Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.
The plastic duplicate was given to the hall in 1834 by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and admirer of the Founding Father.
The statue will now go to the New York Historical Society, and is reportedly on loan for a long period of time.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
New York Post
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