You are reading

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

email the author: news@queenspost.com

One Comment

Click for Comments 
L.G. Brandon

They should address the out of control violent crime in their communities, but that would require people to take responsibility for their own actions. Let’s blame it on the founding fathers!

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Southeast Queens man arraigned on weapons charges after cops search his ‘ghost car’ near LaGuardia Airport: DA

A Hollis man was criminally charged after police discovered a cache of weapons in his vehicle during a traffic stop. He was pulled over for driving a “ghost car” with obscured license plates in East Elmhurst near LaGuardia Airport during the early morning hours of June 12.

Judd Sanson, 27, of Jamaica Avenue, was ordered held without bail after he was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday afternoon on a criminal complaint charging him with multiple counts of weapons possession, unlawful possession of pistol or revolver ammunition, and unlawful use of a police uniform or emblem and other crimes after the arsenal was found in his SUV.

‘Ghost car’ driver arrested in East Elmhurst after traffic stop reveals weapons, threatening note: NYPD

Police from the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst discovered an arsenal of weapons in a ghost car they pulled over on Ditmars Boulevard and 86th Street in East Elmhurst early Wednesday morning.

NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey held a press briefing at the 110th Precinct on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what the sergeant and three officers from the 110th Precinct public safety team found when they pulled over a black Ford Explorer at around 1:30 a.m. because it had blacked-out license plates.

Henry ‘Hank’ Krumholz, stalwart pioneer of Queens LGBTQ Pride, dies at 73

Henry “Hank” Krumholz, a pioneering gay rights activist in Queens, passed away on Sunday in his Flushing apartment at the age of 73.

Krumholz played a crucial role in the establishment and success of the Queens LGBTQ Pride Parade, which is held annually in Jackson Heights. He joined the parade’s sponsoring organization right after its inaugural event in 1993 and continued his involvement for decades. His passing came just a week after this year’s parade on June 2, marking its 31st anniversary.