Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is calling on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Hall to remove all symbols that glorify bigotry and racism from New York City property. Hikind said that New York City, the greatest city in the world, with the widest diversity, has an historical opportunity to set an example for the rest of the United States.
“We are confronted every day with bigotry and divisiveness,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “New Yorkers have an obligation to say, ‘Not in our city.’ It’s time to remove all of New York City’s monuments and markers that glorify bigotry and strengthen that which perpetuates these ignorant beliefs.”
“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “Painful and obvious symbols of hate, such as statues and markers commemorating Nazi collaborators or proponents of slavery, are antithetical to everything our city stands for; statues and plaques to villains have no place on New York City public property. Our city cannot tacitly honor these objectionable figures nor tolerate monuments that hurt New Yorkers who arrived here, or whose ancestors arrived here, seeking freedom from prejudice and intolerance. Regardless of why certain statues and markers were placed here by previous city elders, we must make a loud and clear statement by doing the responsible thing. As such, I call upon Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has proven himself uniquely sensitive to these issues, to remove all monuments to bigotry from New York City.”
In May, Assemblyman Hikind first brought attention to markers commemorating French Vichy Leaders Marshal Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval. The granite markers are located on Morris and Broadway in the Wall Street area’s “Canyon of Heroes.” Laval helped the Nazis arrest thousands of Jews for Deportation to their deaths. Pétain’s anti-Semitic policies were even harsher than what the Germans had adopted. His policies banned Jews from various professions and activities, which eventually led to the deportation and murder of nearly 100,000 Jews, as well as Gypsies, homosexuals, and left-wing activists. Pétain was convicted of treason in 1945. He was sentenced to death by firing squad but France’s President Charles de Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.