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Several Queens Electeds Call for Removal of City Hall’s Thomas Jefferson Statue

The fate of the statue of Thomas Jefferson in City Hall will be decided by the Public Design Commission. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday (Photo: NYLCV)

Oct. 14, 2021 By Max Parrott

Several Queens legislators have called on a city panel tasked with overseeing public art and architecture to vote to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council chambers as a form of reckoning with his legacy as a slaveholder.

The 11-member city Public Design Commission will hold a public hearing Monday in which it will decide whether to relocate the statue from its prominent location in the Council’s side of City Hall.

Ahead of the vote, the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, chaired by Queens Councilmembers Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) sent out a statement asking the commission to put an end to the statue’s presence in City Hall. The caucus also includes Francisco Moya (D-Elmhurst) who is a vice co-chair.

“Our caucus has stood at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the real history of America — whether reflected in words or symbols — is truly genuine to all those who lived it,” members of the caucus wrote.

The statement continued to call for “the individuals memorialized within the confines of our People’s House [to] be reflective not only of the best traditions of our city’s history and its diversity but unquestionable character.”

Though criticism of the statue’s presence stretches back to the early 2000’s, the push gained momentum in June 2020, when Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio calling for its removal in the midst of the protests over George Floyd’s death.

In the letter, the speaker said the statue is “inappropriate and serves as a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued communities of color since the inception of our country.”

Johnson’s opinion of the statue is not shared by all councilmembers. Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told the Daily News that he was against removing one of the nation’s Founding Fathers from the chambers.

The Design Commission will ultimately decide its fate.

Adams told the Queens Post that she had not heard where the members of the Design Commission stood on the issue, but was optimistic that they will listen to the wishes of the caucus and speaker. She added that she would like to see a woman of color represented in the statue’s place, suggesting abolitionists like Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth or civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer.

“It would mean dignity as we go about doing the business of the people in the people’s house as Black people whose ancestors suffered at the hands of slaveholders,” Adams said.

The Jefferson statue at city hall is a copy of the statue by French sculptor Pierre-Jean David d’Angers that stands in the Capitol rotunda of the U.S. Congress. The New York statue was presented to the city in 1834 by naval commander Uriah Philips Levy.

Controversy materialized around it in 2001 when then-Councilmember Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) said that it should be replaced with an image of Malcolm X, calling Jefferson “a pedophile” who “raped his slave Sally Hemings.”

Two decades later, the removal of the statue from the Council chambers would represent another step in the city’s effort to confront racism in the context of the nation’s historical figures.

“The true history behind Thomas Jefferson is good and bad. The good stuff is there — it’s always been there, but we need to tell the whole history if we’re going to celebrate monuments and statues,” Adams said, suggesting that the history of African Americans in U.S. history does not get memorialized enough.

Members of the public can sign up to testify at the Design Commission’s public hearing at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI

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26 Comments

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Kevin

The Council tried to unload the statue on the New-York Historical Society but decided that it was the politically incorrect place because it is a private organization that charges an admission fee. But the Council did not consider the City owned Museum of New York on Fifth Avenue which also charges an admission fee!

I suggest we all make plans to visit both museums to enjoy the wonders they hold in trust for all of us. The New-York Historical Society runs a great lecture series including one by Noah Feldman (“The Broken Constitution”) about how our Constitution has been broken several times, most notably by The Great Emancipator, A. Lincoln who suspended all citizens right of habeas corpus!
(Most lectures come with a fee)
Then enjoy the wonderful cafe, Storico.

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Join the Fox Cult

We should erect statues of Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingram. These patriots have help reshape America and turned lying into an art form.

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John J Lynch

Regretted it did he? Is that why he held onto them until he died? Your ignorance is astounding

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Srinivas

The better question is which statue should be replacing one for Thomas Jefferson? I propose Marx or Mao.

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Manuel

On learning of the burning of the Capitol and the loss of the 3,000-volume Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson offered Congress his personal library of 10,000 volumes as a replacement.

NYC City Council are intellectually immature.

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Truth

The amount of slave’s Jefferson reluctantly owned is no where near the amount of black people who’ve died under the current woke ideology of getting rid of police and keeping the drug prohibition to benefit big pharma.

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Jean Alicea

Thomas Jefferson was one of our founding fathers. We must focus on his contribution as a statesman and president. Many people owned slaves back in the early days of America, even some black Americans owned slaves. Nobody is covering up our history, both good & bad. Jefferson has been on display for 200 years in this building and he should stay there. People who choose to focus on the negative part of our history are using this as an excuse to apply today’s cancel culture to destroy and erase everything that does not fit their own narrative. Save this statue of Jefferson Davis.

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Some Sunnysider

This perfectly sums up what’s wrong with progressives: fix homelessness! No one cares about a statue in city hall. The person sleeping on the anti-homeless bench under the Queensborough Bridge does not care. Stop pandering to Twitter and do your job. ENOUGH

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Jake

None of these people know anything about Jefferson. They are just playing to their constituents.

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Dumb council things

We have dumbest city councilmen in the USA perhaps second to Dan Francisco or Portland
Jefferson was a brilliant man

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Libertas

Can you see how this is an ideological invasion, yet? Liberals have been hijacked by Chinese communists. Group think always focusing on the worst in humanity is a Trojan horse for Communism. It’s time to f I g ht back.

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Cyrus

Here’s the great “Libertas” writing in support of a slave owner. Libertas for me but not for thee, right “Libertas?”

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Concerned Citizen

Imagine being so pressed about an inanimate object while there are people being pushed onto subway tracks, beat on the street at random, robbed, shot, mugged…

Liberal priorities though. Am I right?

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Fox Entertainment at its best

Concerned citizen- You’re obviously not right. Conservatives are busy passing laws to combat the non existent voter fraud epidemic.

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Save the Robots

OK, so you take down Jefferson right after you erect a statue in Union Square for Floyd? This makes sense, how?

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Jefferson fan

Ignorant people who are not half the manJefferson was
Jefferson was flawed but a great man
A giant

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Lucky number 7 train

“yet the hour of emancipation is advancing . . . this enterprise is for the young; for those who can follow it up, and bear it through to it’s consummation. it shall have all my prayers, and these are the only weapons of an old man.”
Thomas Jefferson to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814.
lucky number 7 train- I hope people take some time to truly learn about history and not just the Sensationalism of today. It is wrong to erase history rather to learn from it.

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Lucky number 7 train

“bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.”
Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, August 1, 1816

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Jim

That’s bs. Political correctness takes over. Jefferson was a great man and regretted his owning slaves. Most people only know that one thing about him. Go to the current exhibit at the NYPL and educate yourself.

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John J Lynch

Regretted it did he? Is that why he held onto them until he died? Your ignorance is astounding

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