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New York City weighs removal of Thomas Jefferson statue from City Hall

Thomas Jefferson statue New York City Hall
Posted at 2:25 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 14:25:51-04

A panel on Monday will hold a vote to determine the fate of a 188-year-old sculpture of Thomas Jefferson that currently resides in New York's City Hall.

According to WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV and WABC-TV in New York, the 11-member Public Design Commission will vote Monday whether to remove the statue, which currently resides in the room where the New York City Council meets.

Should the panel vote to remove the statue from City Hall, it will be given to the New-York Historical Society museum on a "long-term loan."

Questions about the statue were raised in June 2020 amid protests against systemic racism that were occurring nationwide following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That month, a group of city council members wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio demanding that the statue be removed from the building.

Historians agree that as one of the authors of the Declaration of Idenepdendence and the third president of the United States, Jefferson played an integral part in the U.S.'s founding, and his contributions have helped the country develop into the nation it is today.

But as the country grapples with systemic racism, activists have pointed out that Jefferson was a slaveholder who opposed emancipation. There's also evidence that Jefferson had an affair with one of his slaves in a relationship that some historians have described as predatory.

According to WNBC, de Blasio said last week that he understood why aspects of Jefferson's life as a slaveholder "profoundly bothers people, and why they find it's something that can't be ignored."

"The thing that is so troubling to people is that even someone who understood so deeply the values of freedom and human dignity and the value of each life was still a slave owner," de Blasio said, according to WABC.