Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is calling upon Mayor de Blasio’s newly appointed 18-member Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, tasked with reviewing monuments on city property that could be considered “symbols of hate,” to consider new monuments that honor underrepresented New Yorkers.
On Tuesday, Adams submitted testimony to Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl along with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, who serves as one of the co-chairs, and other members of the commission to expand the Commission’s mandate to recommend new monuments and markers that could either replace current ones that are found to be offensive, or be built on their own accord. New monuments would honor New Yorkers from marginalized groups, including immigrants, people of color, and the LGBT community.
“There has been wide public outcry about the need to revisit existing monuments that honor individuals with checkered pasts, and it is an important conversation that must take place,” said Adams in a statement. “At the same time, we must build up our communities to recognize the rich and diverse history of individuals that strove against all odds to improve the quality of life of countless during a time when their efforts went largely unrecognized….”
In his testimony, Adams also stated that if the Commission isn’t up to taking on the task of recommending figures for new memorials, he plans on calling upon other borough presidents to join him in doing the job themselves.
“New York City has more than enough venues to honor these individuals or movements. Imagine, for example, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Municipal Building in Downtown Brooklyn, the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park, or perhaps the future archway in Sunset Park named in honor of NYPD Detective Wenjian Liu.”
The city has scheduled public hearings in each borough to address the issue of contentious monuments. The commission will conclude its advisory review in early December, and then leave things up to Mayor De Blasio to decide whether to remove or alter any statues on city property, while also setting new guidelines for which figures should be honored going forward.