Issues

New York City Council Members Demand Removal of Thomas Jefferson Statue

Corey Johnson (Getty Images)

Several Democrats on New York's city council, including the council speaker, have demanded the statue of Thomas Jefferson in New York City Hall be removed.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson joined with council members Deborah Rose, Inez Barron, Adrienne Adams, and I. Daneek Miller on Thursday to request Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) remove the statue. They said having a statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence in City Hall is "a constant reminder" of racist injustice, arguing that it sends a "terrible message."

"There are disturbing images of divisiveness and racism in our City that need to be revisited immediately," the members of the council wrote. "That starts with City Hall. The statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council Chambers is inappropriate and serves as a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued communities of color since the inception of our country. It must be removed."

Johnson on Monday said the removal of the statue is overdue and said it is an image of a "slave master."

"The statue of Thomas Jefferson inside City Hall is a statue of a slave master," Johnson wrote on Twitter. 

On Sunday, de Blasio announced the city will be removing a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt located outside of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Across the country, Black Lives Matter protesters made a push to remove various statues. Monday evening, police in Washington, D.C., intervened to protect the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square across from the White House.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he will issue an executive order to reinforce protections against vandalization of statues and historical monuments.

"We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators," Trump told reporters. "Some people don’t like that language, but that’s what they are. They are bad people. They don’t love our country. And they’re not taking down our monuments."