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Vote on NYC Thomas Jefferson statue expected today

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Today we could learn the fate of a statue of Thomas Jefferson at New York City Hall that has sparked controversy.

The Public Design Commission will hold a public meeting then vote on whether or not to remove the statue.

This latest battle to remove the statue came after City Council sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio in June 2020 calling for the statue’s removal.

The fight, though, has been years in the making. It centers on the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner.

The city’s 11-member Public Design Commission will review public comment today and then vote on whether to remove the statue from city hall.

If the removal is approved, the statue will likely be moved to the New York Historical Society.

ALSO READ | ‘Save Our Statue’ rally held ahead of NYC vote on Thomas Jefferson sculpture

De Blasio has shared his own views of Jefferson, calling the founding father “complex.”

“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,” the mayor said. “And I understand why that profoundly bothers people.”

The city council’s Black, Latino and Asian caucus released a statement, saying in part:

“This Administration owes it to the more than five million New Yorkers of color our members – past, present and future – represent, to resolve that the individuals memorialized within the confines of our People’s House be reflective not only of the best traditions of our city’s history and its diversity but unquestionable character.”

Not everyone supports removing the statue, and it has become an issue in the NYC mayoral race.

Candidates Curtis Sliwa and Eric Adams both shared their thoughts on the matter.

“Do we suddenly wipe out the images, the markings, the names of all those great patriots because they were slaveholders and slave holding was quite common at that time?” said Sliwa.

Adams released a statement saying in part, “There are a number of appropriate figures to honor in our seat of government who are more directly meaningful to our people and are more reflective of our city’s history than Thomas Jefferson.”

The Public Design Commission’s hearing will be held via Zoom starting at 1:20 p.m. Monday.

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