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Mayor Vows to Remove 'Symbols of Hate' Across the City

By Katie Honan | August 17, 2017 8:56am
 The mayor is calling for a 90-day panel to review what's across the city. 
The mayor is calling for a 90-day panel to review what's across the city. 
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Flickr/NYCMayorsoffice

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the city will conduct a review of its art, statues, and "all symbols of hate" after the violent protests in Charlottesville surrounding the removal of a statue to top Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

A commemoration to Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain on the Canyon of Heroes, which stretches for 13 blocks of Broadway in Lower Manhattan where the ticker tape parades are held, will be the first to go, the mayor vowed.

The announcement comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday afternoon tweeted that statues of Lee and Stonewall Jackson — another Confederate general — would be removed from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College

Cuomo and the mayor also asked for the removal of confederate street names from the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn.

A plaque honoring Lee was already removed Wednesday from an Episcopal church near the military base.

"In our state, we condemn the language and violence of white supremacy in no uncertain terms," Cuomo wrote to Ryan McCarthy, the acting secretary of the United States Army.

"Renaming these streets will send a clear message that in New York, we stand against intolerance and racism, whether it be insidious and hidden or obvious and intentional."

The mayor's spokesman, Eric Phillips, told the New York Post the review process will be the "beginning framework of what will ideally be a long-term approach to the evaluation of public structures and controversial pieces of public art."

In 2014, de Blasio vowed to diversify the paintings in City Hall, where the walls are filled mostly with white men. 

The granite plaque for Pétain, a French general, remembers his ticker-tape parade down Broadway in 1931, when he was honored for defending France during World War 1. But years later he collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Throughout the city, countless streets are named for former slave holders, business men and judges who presided over slave hearings.

Rikers Island is named for Abraham Riker, a Dutch settler who came to New York in the 1600s.

His relative Richard Riker was a judge in the 1800s who used his authority to send blacks to slavery as part of what abolitionists called the Kidnapping Club, according to historian Eric Foner.

A petition was circulated in 2015 calling for the jail complex to be renamed.