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City announces schedule for public hearings on contentious monuments

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Mayor de Blasio will decide whether to remove or alter any statues by December


Following the city's decision to assemble a monuments review commission, the mayor has taken the first steps in reviewing so-called “symbols of hate” on city property across the five boroughs.

According to the New York Post, the city has just released a schedule of public hearings—one for each borough—to address the issue. “Through these public hearings and our online survey, we’re making sure this important conversation is grounded in the ideas, thoughts and concerns of the people who call our city home,” Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl told the paper.

The mayor appointed an 18-member panel tasked with conducting a 90-day review of “how the city should address monuments seen as oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City" this September.

Though the national discussion stemmed from the removal of Confederate monuments, New Yorkers have pointed out the problems of glorifying figured like Christopher Columbus here in New York. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has lead the charge for the removal of the Columbus Circle monument to the contentious Italian explorer, though it's provoked backlash from New Yorkers who want to protect it.

This October, President Theodore Roosevelt’s statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History was vandalized with red paint. The statue depicts Roosevelt atop a horse with an indigenous man and a black man on either side and has been criticized as racist.

The Mayor has suggested that controversial statues can stay in place, but be better placed in a historical context by providing informative plaques. The public hearings, however, will be an opportunity to offer different ideas.

The hearings will be held November 17 in Queens, November 21 in Brooklyn and November 22 in Manhattan. After Thanksgiving, they’ll resume on November 27 in The Bronx and November 28 on Staten Island. (Check out the full schedule here.)

The commission will conclude its advisory review by early December, after which De Blasio will decide whether to remove or alter any statues on city property, and set new guidelines for which figures should be honored going forward.