The controversial statue of a surgeon who had performed experimental operations on enslaved African-American women was removed from Central Park on Tuesday.
"Good riddance," one witness said. "It should be no different than a swastika to a Jewish person."
Dr. J. Marion Sims was a 19th Century surgeon who is considered a pioneer in the field of gynecology.
But he also performed the experimental operations on the enslaved women without anesthesia and without their consent.
The city's Public Design Commission voted unanimously to relocate the statue from 103rd St. and 5th Ave. to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Sims is buried. The statue had been at the location for more than 80 years.
"While this is a person who contributed to science and to the development of my field, he did it at the expense of women who were unable to give consent and he did it at the expense of African-Americans," said Dr. Bernadith Russell, a Manhattan obstetrician-gynecologist
Calls to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle generated the most attention. In that case, the panel decided to add context to provide a fuller picture of his legacy. The Sims statue was the only one the panel wanted removed.
"It should not be here on 5th Ave. across from the Academy of Medicine. I think bringing it to Greenwood is the right thing to do," said Tom Finkelpearl, the city's Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and the co-chair of the mayor's Commission on Monuments and Markers.
The move comes after a number of public protests over the Sims statue
The cemetery plans to add displays to provide context to Sims's life and work, something Dr. Russell calls appropriate
"It's important that we understand how we got to where we are today, and that doesn't mean erasing history, but that does mean changing who we honor and how we honor them," Russell said.
Plans are in the works create a new monument at the Central Park site. Finkelpearl said it may recognize other people's contributions to medicine in the city.