OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
12:51 PM – Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
A committee on the New York City Council is set to vote on a proposal that could result in monuments honoring figures such as George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, Peter Stuyvesant, and more being removed due to their “controversial” pasts.
A public hearing was held on Tuesday addressing the proposal established by the NYC Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations. The proposal specified that public art that portrays someone who has been linked to slavery or “crimes against humanity” should be taken down.
However, if the commission determines that a statue or monument honors a person who committed crimes against humanity, but votes not to remove the artwork, it would require the city to create an “explanatory plaque” discussing the misdeeds of the historical figure.
The committee’s hearing involved additional legislation that would mandate the city’s Public Design Commission (PDC) to administer a plan to remove works of art on New York property.
According to the committee, the monuments represent individuals who owned enslaved persons who economically benefited from slavery, or those who participated in systemic crimes against indigenous people.
“This bill would require the PDC to publish a plan to remove works of art on City property that depict a person who owned enslaved persons or directly benefited [sic] economically from slavery, or who participated in systemic crimes against indigenous peoples or other crimes against humanity,” the proposal explains. “If PDC determines a work of art depicts a person who fits these criteria and decides not to remove the work of art, PDC would be required to include in the plan steps it will take to install an explanatory plaque next to the work of art.”
However, Republican officials claimed that the proposal was created in an effort to erase history and dishonor those who established America. Critics immediately branded the attempt to remove the notable statues as being a part of “cancel culture.”
“This is little more than an attempt by the radical left to rewrite our nation’s history,” said Republican Councilwoman Joann Ariola of Queens, according to the New York Post. “These men all had an enormous impact on this country, and these statues commemorating their achievements have been in place for decades.”
“The radical left has been trying to reframe our nation as one born from evil, and it is time we put our foot down and say enough is enough,” she added. “The Founding Fathers and the others who worked so hard to establish this great country should be celebrated, not eliminated from memory.”
There are over half a dozen monuments on city property admiring Washington, the first president of the United States and a revolutionary hero, which could now potentially be taken down. These include monuments in Washington Square Park and Union Square Park.
Statues of Christopher Columbus, an Italian man famously known for discovering the “New World” in 1492, were also targeted with outcries for his statue to be removed from the public square due to how he allegedly “abused native populations throughout his travels.”
Additionally, Peter Stuyvesant, an early New York settler and slaveholder, has a statue erected of him in Stuyvesant Park, and the prestigious Stuyvesant High School is also named after him.
Furthermore, NYC officials have already taken down a statue of Thomas Jefferson, an author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the U.S., due to his connection with slavery. These included monuments at the city council chambers that were removed in 2021.
Another monument, which honors the 26th president of the U.S., Teddy Roosevelt, has also been taken down in front of the Natural History Museum in New York.
“I thought this was behind us,” Angelo Vivolo, president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition said. “This woke group wants to cancel our culture.”
“I’m here for the fight. The Italian-American community will come out strongly against this move to ban Columbus, a symbol of Italian-American accomplishment. But it’s not just Columbus. You’re going against Washington… Jefferson…. You’re going against the people who contributed greatly to America,” he added.
The 51-member New York City Council is in control of the operation of city agencies and the passing of local regulations and laws that deal with everything from outdoor dining to zoning matters. However, their main focus currently is canceling historical figures deemed “controversial.”
Brooklyn Council Sany Nurse, the author of the proposal, was not immediately available for comment when asked about the situation.
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