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De Blasio offers alternative to removing objectionable statues

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Plaques placing statues within a historical context may appear across the city

The statue for Christopher Columbus near the southwest corner of Central Park has been eyed for removal by some elected officials.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio has offered an alternative to removing statues deemed offensive after announcing a 90-day review of “symbols of hate” on city property: placing them in a historical context by providing plaques.

The Post reports that at an unrelated event this week, De Blasio said that removal may not be the answer for the large number of statues and monuments across the city considered offensive by different groups. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding of what options could be utilized,” de Blasio said. “There’s more than one way to address this. I don’t think anyone should leap to any conclusions. They should see how this commission does its work and what it presents.”

The mayor predicted that many statues will remain in place, and that some may get explanatory plaques noting their historical significance and context while some of the most divisive will be removed, the Post says.

The commission that will review the monuments has yet to be named or convened. Exactly who will make up the commission remains unclear, beyond a panel of “relevant experts and community leaders.”

The issue has come to the fore in the last few weeks as lawmakers and other officials around the country have called for the removal of Confederate monuments and other markers in their cities and states. Two weeks ago, Bronx Community College announced that busts of Lee and Jackson will be removed from the Hall of Fame For Great Americans on its campus, a move that was championed by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Elected officials have also called for the removal of a statue in Central Park of J. Marion Sims, the so-called father of modern gynecology who performed experiments on enslaved black women, as well as a statue of Christopher Columbus, who is credited with encouraging European exploration in the Americas, but whose exploits in the Caribbean and beyond were devastating to the indigenous people.

The mayor has not made decisive comments about which statues would be removed, other than that of French Nazi collaborator Henri Philippe Pétain, located in the Financial District’s Canyon of Heroes.

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