On Saturday morning, the controversial Central Park statue of a doctor who experimented on slaves was found defaced, the Daily News reports. The word “racist” was spray-painted on the monument’s back, and red paint was applied to its eyes, mouth, and neck.
The bronze statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, which sits at the Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street entrance to the park, has recently attracted citywide attention in the wake of Charlottesville, amid the growing effort to topple monuments to racists throughout the city. Earlier this week, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined activists with the Black Youth Project, Planned Parenthood, and East Harlem Preservation to denounce the monument.
Join A Panel Discussion Regarding The Statue Of J. Marion Sims An “Medical Apartheid” DoctorEast Harlem Preservation invites you to attend an in-studio panel discussion regarding ongoing effor…Jan 25 2017harlemworldmag.com
“We must send a definitive message that the actions of J Marion Sims are repugnant,” Mark-Viverito said during a protest on Monday (the second such demonstration in three days). “His horrific experiments enslaved black women.”
Credited as the father of modern gynecology, Sims spent years performing experimental vaginal surgeries on three female slaves. He’s believed to have “operated repeatedly without success on patients who had no say in the decision-making process that led up to their surgeries.”
While the Sims memorial has only recently begun to attract widespread attention, residents of East Harlem and members of Community Board 11 have long argued that a southern doctor who experimented on slaves should not be publicly honored in New York. Back in 2011, a poll conducted by East Harlem Preservation found that an overwhelming majority of neighborhood residents supported the statue’s removal.
“Now, more than ever, as the nation undergoes the erosion of our fundamental rights, it is imperative that New York City stand firm in its commitment to honor and defend its citizens with this simple gesture,” a pamphlet distributed this week by East Harlem Preservation read.
Photo credit: Keegan Stephan.
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