The Observer reports:
A proposal to remove a statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus on the Upper West Side will receive “immediate attention” by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office in the wake of violence stemming from a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, and Harlem elected officials held a rally on Monday calling for a statue of J. Marion Sims, a 19th Century doctor who has been called the “father of modern gynecology,” to be removed from Central Park, where it is situated on East 103rd Street in East Harlem. Concerns with that statue stem from the fact that Sims experimented on African slaves without their consent or any anesthesia throughout his career as a doctor.
During that same rally, Mark-Viverito said the statue of Columbus, known for discovering the Americas while sailing for Asia, but later known for aggressive moves to colonize and oppress natives, should be examined as well.
“I think that that has to be looked at and we have to look at history,” she said during the rally. “We have to look at it thoroughly. He is a controversial figure and I know that some may take offense to that but for many of us that come from the Caribbean islands, we see him as a controversial figure.”
De Blasio has ordered a 90-day review of all statues and monuments that suggest hate, division, racism or anti-Semitism and said that he would put together a task force in the next few days that will evaluate each one and come up with recommendations going forward.
“The Columbus statue is obviously one that will get very immediate attention because there’s been tremendous concern raised about it,” Ben Sarle, a mayoral spokesman, wrote in an emailed statement. “When the guidelines/criteria for review are set by the commission, we will make sure they are available to the public.”