The officials from the Public Design Commission of the New York City (NYC) voted to take the statue of the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson out of City Chambers premises.
The statue will thus be removed from the location it was placed at soon after it was created in 1833.
The debate arose whether the Jefferson statue should be placed in the building of the New-York Historical Society.
The proponents of this idea emphasized that such a move would put the statue in its “historical and educational context.”
Opponents, however, pointed out that placing the statue in the New York Historical Society building would make it less visible to the public since the society, which is a private institution, charges $22 fee to enter its premises.
Viewing the Jefferson statue as a public good, NYC Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen had long opposed the removal of the statue from the City Hall.
Despite that, the Commission unanimously voted to remove the statue by the end of the year, leaving the future of the monument uncertain.
Many insiders believe that the recent decision has been crucially influenced by the complaints from the minorities’ caucus in the City Council.
Democratic member of the City Council and its Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Inez D. Barron, along with her husband, Assembly Member Charles Barron, led the initiative to remove the Jefferson statue.
They expressed concerns about the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, viewing it as inappropriate that such a person has a statue in the City Hall.
The members of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus even wrote to the City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in 2019.
In a letter, they emphasized that the Jefferson statue represents a symbol of the “racist foundations of the U.S.”
Another divide between Republicans and Democrats
The removal of the statue has been supported by other officials from the Democratic Party.
Eric Adams, a Democratic nominee for the 2021 New York City mayoral election, contended that the displacement of the statue would do good by uplifting politically wronged communities.
His Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa, however, opposed the move, characterizing it as an attempt to “erase the national history.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump also warned about the removal of the Jefferson statue.
Four years ago, Trump opposed the removal of Robert E. Lee’s Dallas statue.
Worried about the never-ending nature of such removals, then-President asked whether the statues of the Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would become next to be removed, adding that removals of the statues present a “destruction of the U.S. culture and history.”
Most likely, the Jefferson statue in NYC will not be the last one.
The latest removal might be viewed as a small part of the larger process of Confederate monument removals, initiated in the U.S. several years ago in an attempt to confront what left-wing activists view as a ‘racist history’ of the U.S.