NY Daily News reports that Mayor de Blasio named a committee Friday to address how the city should deal with the sordid histories of hundreds of statues, plaques, obelisks and other memorials scattered on city property across the five boroughs.
The new 18-member committee will over the next three months recommend guidelines advising City Hall on how to “address monuments seen as oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City.”
The committee includes singer and civil rights leader Harry Belafonte, a longtime de Blasio supporter, and a host of artists and college history professors.
It will be co-chaired by the president of the nonprofit Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, and Thomas Finkelpearl, de Blasio’s cultural affairs commissioner.
The committee will also offer suggestions on what to do about “a select few items,” including “pieces that have been the subject of significant public discussion.”
The committee’s announcement made no mention of the statue that’s already created a rhetorical conflagration — Christopher Columbus.
The mayor has repeatedly refused to say whether he would support or fight removal of that statue after Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for it to come down three weeks ago.
De Blasio promised to create the committee about four weeks ago after protests in Charlottesville, Va., over removal of a Confederate statue turned violent.
At the time, he said the committee would consider possible removal of “all symbols of hate on city property.”
De Blasio has already targeted for removal a marker on lower Broadway referencing Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain.
Speaker Mark-Viverito and community groups in East Harlem have also called for removal of a statue next to Central Park of Dr. James Marion Sims (pictured above), who in the early 19th century did experimental surgery on 12 slave women in his effort to cure a complication that often led to death in childbirth.
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