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Mayor Names Commission to Review City Statues 'Seen as Oppressive'

By Ben Fractenberg | September 8, 2017 6:31pm | Updated on September 10, 2017 5:09pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio named a commission to review potentially offensive monuments across the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio named a commission to review potentially offensive monuments across the city.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MIDTOWN — Mayor Bill de Blasio formed an advisory commission of members including entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte to help “develop guidelines on how the City should address monuments seen as oppressive,” his office said Friday.

The 19-person committee — co-chaired by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl — will take 90 days to make recommendations for pieces that have been the subject of public discussion.

“There’s an important conversation taking place right now about history and representation in public art, monuments and markers. This diverse group of experts will be creating a thoughtful set of guidelines that acknowledge the complexities of history and the values that matter to us as New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement.

“The commission will also make specific recommendations for a select few monuments and markers that have prompted understandably passionate public discourse. I'm confident that this process will produce a conversation capable of examining our public art through the accurate, contextual historical lens that it deserves.”

The commission may review statues honoring Christopher Columbus, which has been part of a discussion about removing potentially offensive symbols, after a protester was killed during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis has called on de Blasio to definitively state whether he endorses removing the statue or not