New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson that stood at city hall for nearly 200 years.
A Founding Father and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, has become a contentious historical figure in recent years alongside Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, whose statues were defaced or otherwise removed by cities during the George Floyd riots of 2020.
New York City’s Public Design Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, will loan the Jefferson statue to the New York Historical Society with no plans to take it back to city hall. According to the New York Post, the commission has listed the statue’s loan under its “consent” agenda, which means that the decision to remove it from its current premises will not be open to public debate.
“The de Blasio administration will continue the progressive war on history as he, himself, fades away into a portrait on a city hall wall,” Republican Councilman Joe Borelli told the New York Post. “I hope he is at least gone a couple hundred years before someone cancels him.”
For over a year, Democrats and progressives in the New York city council have pushed for the expulsion of the Jefferson statue, arguing that his ownership of slaves justifies his removal from city hall.
“His words are ‘all men are created equal’ but they were not matched by his action, which included the ability to sell, buy, mortgage and lease human beings,” said Democrat Councilwoman Debi Rose in June 2020. She made her remarks in the weeks following the death of George Floyd, during the height of the “defund the police” protests that plunged the nation into daily protests and riots throughout the summer.
Rose and four other members of the council sent a petition to de Blasio calling for the removal of the Jefferson statue.
“He believed black people to be racially inferior, said black Americans and white Americans could not live peacefully side by side and he fathered as many as six children with a woman he enslaved,” Rose said. “I believe the New York City Council should neither ignore nor glorify this dark side of American history.”
The removal of the Jefferson bust and other historical figures come as George Floyd is immortalized in statues and art exhibits across the country.