Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Entertaiment | By Mabel Barber

Columbus statue to remain in NYC park

Columbus statue to remain in NYC park

When the city held public hearings on the controversial statues and monuments began many asked the city to retain the statues including that of Christopher Columbus, who many consider a symbol to the Italian-American community.

The commission recommended moving the controversial statue of J. Marion Sims, now in Central Park, to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

"I think they came up with something that makes a lot of sense, helps us move forward, and focuses on adding knowledge and information and perspective, and adding new monuments that reflect who we are and how diverse we are and what we value today", de Blasio said during an appearance Friday on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show". De Blasio said previous year that the panel would scrutinize "all symbols of hate" in the city, where vandals also desecrated several controversial statues like Columbus'.

De Blasio set up the commission last August to review monuments on city property "seen as oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City" amid a national debate on statues honoring controversial figures, which initially targeted statues of Confederate leaders. The statue has been the target of #DecolonizeThisPlace protests; a year ago, activists splashed it with red paint, arguing that it symbolizes "genocide, dispossession, displacement, enslavement, and state terror".

The Columbus statue in his eponymous circle near 59th Street - a source of Italian-American pride but animus to American Indian groups over his treatment of natives he encountered - should get "new historical markers" nearby, and the city ought to commission a new monument to indigenous people, the 42-page "historical reckoning" report recommended.

The city says it will place new historical markers in or around Columbus circle explaining the history of Columbus and of the monument itself, and commissioning a new monument, at a location in the city not yet determined, recognizing Indigenous peoples.

De Blasio said the commission tried to address the “two parallel realities” concerning Columbus
De Blasio said the commission tried to address the “two parallel realities” concerning Columbus

The monument also recommended keeping the Broadway "Canyon of Heroes" plaque to Philippe Petain, a World War I hero later convicted of treason for heading the collaborationist Vichy government in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The report also called for the addition of the names of three women - Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey - on whom Sims experimented, as well as their histories.

Only the statue of Sims will be relocated, from its site in Central Park to the grounds of Greenwood Cemetery, where the doctor is buried.

The sculpture of Sims stood on its pedestal for almost 35 years, across from the New York Academy of Medicine.

The decision to keep the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle and the Roosevelt monument outside the American Museum of Natural History was made by the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers (MAC), which was created as nationwide protests against such statues took place this past summer.

The full report can be read on the City of New York's website.

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