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De Blasio announces members of task force scrutinizing city’s ‘symbols of hate’

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The task force will create a set of guidelines for addressing the city’s contentious public monuments

A monument for Christopher Columbus in Midtown has proven particularly divisive.

The city has announced the members of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers that will oversee the 90-day review of “symbols of hate” on public property.

The commission will be co-chaired by President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker and the city’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Tom Finkelpearl. The commission will be comprised of 18 members in total, including Michael Arad, architect and designer of the World Trade Center Memorial; Harry Belafonte, singer and social activist; Mary Schmidt Campbell, the former vice-chair of the President’s Committee of Arts and Humanities; Gonzalo Casals, the director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art; and Mabel Wilson, architect and associate professor at Columbia University.

The commission will be tasked with creating guidelines on how the city should address monuments seen as oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City, a press release from the mayor’s office says. At that, they won’t be determining which, if any, monuments should be removed—as some passionate public discourse has called for—but will be offering recommendations, and perhaps propose principals for public works.

The commission will also solicit public and community input, though public forums and a survey on the Department of Cultural Affairs website. In addition to the committee, city agencies with relevant roles are also going to provide input.

The commission will issue its recommendations by the end of the year, when they’ll be posted on the city’s website. The mayor will have final decision in the city’s course of action.

Mayor De Blasio announced that the city would convene a committee to overlook “symbols of hate” on city property following August’s marches, protests, and attacks at a “Unite the Right” rally led by white nationalist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Ford Foundation

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