New York City’s left-wing mayor Bill de Blasio has confirmed he will consider a proposal to remove a statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus and has ordered a review of all the city’s statues and monuments following violent clashes between white nationalists and Antifa in Charlottesville last weekend.
His consideration follows a rally held by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other elected Democrats calling for the removal of a statue of 19th Century doctor J. Marion Sims from Central Park. Sims is known to have experimented on African slaves.
Sims, dubbed the “father of modern gynecology,” experimented on unconsenting African slaves as part of his research.
During the rally, Mark-Viverito also suggested that removing the statue of the legendary explorer Columbus needed to be “looked at” due to his being a “controversial figure.”
“I think that that has to be looked at and we have to look at history,” she said during the rally. “We have to look at it thoroughly. He is a controversial figure and I know that some may take offense to that, but for many of us that come from the Caribbean islands, we see him as a controversial figure.”
In the wake of a widespread attempt by left-wing activists to remove statues of historical figures all across America, de Blasio has ordered a 90-day review of all New York’s statues and monuments and their historical links and will analyze each one on a case by case basis.
“The Columbus statue is obviously one that will get very immediate attention because there’s been tremendous concern raised about it,” Ben Sarle, a mayoral spokesman, told the Observer in an emailed statement. “When the guidelines/criteria for review are set by the commission, we will make sure they are available to the public.”
In a letter to de Blasio, Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli (R) urged the mayor to present a “clear and concise document” on what criteria must be fulfilled for statues to be removed.
“Although your intentions may be well placed, I fear that an examination into these particular statues, as well as the many others the city hopes to ‘review,’ will present complex and cloudy historical interpretations that will only serve to deepen gaps between people of New York with different backgrounds and historical worldviews,” he wrote. “I will also bluntly remind you that it will not change the history of those they commemorate, controversial or otherwise.”