A statue of former President Thomas Jefferson has been removed from New York City Hall after nearly two centuries, the New York Post reports. As the nation’s third president, whose controversy stemmed from his rumored affair with an enslaved person, Jefferson’s 7-foot, 884-pound statue was hauled off by art handlers on Monday.
Marshall Fine Arts, a storage facility located in Deer Park, New York, enlisted the help of workers who spent hours dismantling the statue from its pedestal and replaced the empty area with wooden boards and foam.
The mayoral commission ousted the statue from its location due to Jefferson’s ownership of enslaved people during the 19th century. According to Smithsonian magazine, Jefferson owned over 600 enslaved people during his adulthood, but only freed two.
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY), along with the commission members, voted back in October to relocate the figure as a “long-term loan” to the New York Historical Society, The Hill reports.
The commission council includes Black, Asian and Latinx people who objected to Jefferson’s inhumane antics and the statue’s reminder of a painful era in history. However, certain members were against the statue’s relocation to the Historical Society because entry fees would make it challenging for patrons to view the public monument.
Earlier attempts were made to remove the statue, but it wasn’t until the death of George Floyd and global controversy that forward movement was sparked.
“Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder who owned over 600 human beings,” Adrienne Adams, who serves as co-chair of the mayoral caucus, said back in October.
“It makes me deeply uncomfortable knowing that we sit in the presence of a statue that pays homage to a slaveholder who fundamentally believed that people who look like me were inherently inferior, lacked intelligence, and were not worthy of freedom or rights,” she added.