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New York City Mulls Reparations Task Force, Removing Statues Of Historical Figures Tied To Slavery

The New York City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations met Tuesday to discuss pending legislation that could lead to the removal of statues of major historical figures and the creation of a reparations task force.

One of the bills discussed at the meeting would require the city to remove artwork of any figure who had ties to slavery or “participated in systemic crimes against indigenous peoples or other crimes against humanity” if it is on public land. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both slave owners, could see their statues in NYC removed if the legislation is passed.

Councilman Chi Ossé, who began his remarks by listing his pronouns, justified the bill as a way to “help tell the true stories of the whole BIPOC community. Councilwoman Sandy Nurse argued the legislation is “not an erasure of history” but “an act of remembrance and truth.”

This wouldn’t be New York’s first bout of historical iconoclasm. New York City spent $2 million removing a statue of Theodore Roosevelt from in front of the American Museum of Natural History in 2022 following demands from activists, according to the New York Post.

During the committee meeting, New York City Public Design Commission Executive Director Sreoshy Banerjea said her office would need more staff and resources to accommodate the removal of what she said could be “a lot” of statues. Banerjea was supportive of the council’s efforts.

The proposed policy does provide an opportunity for the city to forgo removing a statue and instead install an “explanatory plaque” next to it.

In addition to a potentially costly monument removal initiative, the council is also considering assembling a task force to perform research for a reparations program. A similar task force in San Francisco proposed that every black person in the city be paid $5 million, according to Axios.

Both of these possibly expensive proposals come as New York has seen its financial resources spread thin due to an ongoing migrant crisis. Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that the crisis could cost the city $12 billion over three years. Such a sum exceeds what the city can afford, according to The New York Times.

Nurse and Ossé did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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