NYC could create a reparations task force and tear down George Washington, Columbus statues
The New York City Council is considering creating a reparations task force and removing statues of historical figures using the limited funds at its disposal as the council and much of the city’s agencies face significant budget cuts.
One of the council’s committees will meet on Tuesday to propose allocating resources toward removing artworks that “depict a person who owned enslaved persons or directly benefited economically from slavery, or who participated in systemic crimes against indigenous peoples or other crimes against humanity,” per the council’s agenda.
This removal process would affect several statues across the city, including ones of George Washington, New York governor and settler Peter Stuyvesant, and Christopher Columbus. However, if the Public Design Commission decided the statue or installation did not need to be removed, the Cultural Affairs Committee says the PDC should be required to place an “explanatory plaque” next to the work of art.
Cultural Affairs Committee members will also propose the establishment of a reparations task force, a freedom trail task force, and anti-racism and anti-racial discrimination training for city employees — measures several Democratic cities have implemented in recent months that have drawn significant pushback from conservatives and other critics who believe they should not have to pay for something that happened in the past.
Discussions about reparations have become common in cities in Illinois and California. Evanston, Illinois, became the first city to guarantee reparations funding for black residents, giving out nearly $1.1 million as of Aug. 17. However, most people are opposed to reparations, with a poll from the University of Massachusetts finding two-thirds of people are against giving cash payments to descendants of slaves.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s office told the Washington Examiner he was reviewing Tuesday’s council agenda proposals. They come when the city is facing an influx of immigrants, which is putting a strain on public resources. Adams and other city officials have repeatedly called on President Joe Biden to help with the flow of immigrants who are arriving from the southern border.
Adams, who is asking for increased federal funding to address the growing immigrant crisis, said he hadn’t spoken to the president since earlier this year. The mayor announced a 5% budget cut across all city agencies on Sept. 9 to “reduce the cost of caring for the asylum-seekers” — marking the third budget cut the mayor has called for.
The New York City Police Department is one organization affected by the financial pressure after the city announced it would reduce overtime pay for officers to fund the immigrant crisis despite a staffing shortage.
The Washington Examiner reached out to the NYC Council for comment.