World News

Dr. J. Marion Sims statue to be removed from Central Park

Dr. J. Marion Sims statue to be removed from Central Park

New York City workers removed a Central Park statue on Tuesday commemorating Dr. J. Marion Sims, a 19th-century surgeon who made significant advances in gynecology at the expense of enslaved black women.

It was the first decision to alter a prominent NY monument since Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a review of "symbols of hate" from city property eight months ago, in the wake of the white supremacist protestin Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead. But Sims developed the surgery by experimenting on black women without anesthesia, only performing the surgery on white women - and using anesthesia - once he had perfected the technique through his painful experiments.

The removal comes after leaders in east Harlem have been asking for seven years that the statue be removed.

For now the city wants to keep the statue, but it's unclear when it will be moved to Brooklyn. It will be kept in storage at Green-Wood until the cemetery constructs a historical display, which will put Sims' work into context and be placed near his grave site, a spokeswoman for the cemetery said.

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As far as Green-Wood Cemetary is concerned, J. Marion Sims is definitively absent from their list of "famous residents," and his gravesite must be located via the search function.

"In its current location, the Sims monument has come to represent a legacy of oppressive and abusive practices on bodies that were seen as subjugated, subordinate, and exploitable in service to his fame", the panel wrote in a report released in January.

Of course, while moving the statue out of a position of prominence along Central Park and relegating it to the south-west corner of a large cemetery is certainly a statement, some feel that the statue shouldn't be displayed at all. Protesters have pushed the American Museum of Natural History to remove the a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, and a statue of Christopher Columbus became an issue in the recent mayoral election, though de Blasio ultimately decided the statue should remain with added information about Columbus's treatment of Native Americans.


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