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'Racist' Painted on Statue of Doctor Who Experimented on Slaves, NYPD Says

By Shaye Weaver | August 28, 2017 2:50pm
 The statue has stood at the corner of 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue since 1934.
The statue has stood at the corner of 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue since 1934.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

EAST HARLEM — A vandal defaced a Central Park monument dedicated to a controversial doctor who experimented on slaves by spray-painting the word "racist" on its back, after activists and elected officials called for its removal last week, police said.

The graffiti appeared on the statue of J. Marion Sims at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street on Friday around 4:30 p.m., but it wasn't reported until Saturday morning, when an employee of the Central Park Conservancy discovered it while on the job, police said.

The statue's face and neck had been splattered with red paint, and the word "racist" was scrawled across its back by an unknown vandal or vandals, police said.

The graffiti had already been scrubbed off as of Monday morning, and police said no one had been arrested for the incident.

Photo: DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

The Central Park Conservancy referred questions about the monument to the mayor's office, which didn't immediately return a request for comment Monday.

Between 1845 an 1849, Sims performed gynecological experiments on 12 slaves without anesthesia, experts say.

The statue, which was installed in 1934, has long served as a reminder that slaves "were considered less than human" in the time that they were experimented on by Sims during the 19th century, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in 2011.

Both she and Councilman Bill Perkins have spoken in support of removing the monument in recent years, but brought their advocacy to the forefront last week in the wake of deadly clashes between protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Mark-Viverito called the monument a "tasteless tribute to J. Marion Sims" whose experiments on enslaved women are "a stain on our nation's history."

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would be conducting a 90-day review of all "symbols of hate on city property." A spokesman for his office said last week that "the Sims statue is obviously one that will get very immediate attention because there’s been a tremendous concern raised about it."