The two-hundred-year-old Thomas Jefferson statue will be removed from NYC’s City Hall after a unanimous vote. On Monday, New York’s Public Design Commission voted to remove the statue. The request to move the statue has been ongoing since June 2020, when the council wrote a letter to Mayor DeBlasio requesting its removal.
The statue, which dates back to 1833, was supposed to go to the New York Historical Society on a long-term loan. It would be housed with educational exhibits with proper historical context, including his slave ownership. The historical society charges a fee to house the statue, leaving the destination of the statue in limbo. The council has been given until year’s end to find a place to house the statue.
The fight over whether to remove the statue has been ongoing for years.
DeBlasio has called the founding father “complex.” He said,
“The thing that is so troubling to people is that even someone who understood so deeply the values of freedom and human dignity and the value of each life was still a slave owner. And I understand why that profoundly bothers people.”
In 2001, when a New York assemblyman first tried to remove the statue, he called Jefferson a, “slaveholding pedophile.”
New York City’s Black, Asian, and Latino caucus issued a statement on the removal, saying,
“This administration owes it to the more than five million New Yorkers of color our members – past, present and future – represent, to resolve that the individuals memorialized within the confines of our People’s House be reflective not only of the best traditions of our city’s history and its diversity but unquestionable character.”
While the council appears to have strong support for the removal, not all New Yorkers feel the same way. Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa disagrees with the decision. The Republican candidate said, “Do we suddenly wipe out the images, the markings, the names of all those great patriots because they were slaveholders and slaveholding was quite common at that time?”
The members of the design commission are appointed by the mayor. The mayor’s spokesperson said, “The city would still have jurisdiction over the statue but that they would work to “provide valuable historical context.”
Jefferson isn’t the first statue to be given the ax by the design commission. They voted to remove war hero Theodore Roosevelt’s statue from outside the American Museum of Natural History.
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