Fighting words: Residents react to Green-Wood’s statue scheme • Brooklyn Paper

Fighting words: Residents react to Green-Wood’s statue scheme

Green-Wood Cemetery’s offer to take a statue of infamous gynecologist J. Marion Sims off the city’s hands sparked so much controversy, we couldn’t fit all of the outrage into one story. Here are some other reactions, culled from the dozens of letters locals sent in opposition to the monument’s move:

“Is Green-Wood Cemetery trying to send a message that torture and racism are okay? That’s horrifying.” — Laura Castro, Kensington

“The statute makes Green-Wood a far cry from the peaceful oasis that your website advertises – peaceful for whom? White people who will not reckon with or learn from history?” — Rachel Pecker, Park Slope

“When I heard that you volunteered to host the statue of an incredibly racist man, I was appalled.” — Jeff Sterrenberg, Sunset Park

“J. Marion Sims may be historically ‘important,’ but so were the black women whom he operated on without anesthesia because he thought they couldn’t feel pain. I don’t see their statues.” — Leah Thompson

“On your website, you invite New Yorkers to ‘discover a peaceful oasis in urban New York.’ A peaceful oasis, that is, until you get to the monument of anti-black hate and torture.” — Desiree LaVecchia, Kensington

“I read a disturbing article in the Brooklyn Paper recently that Green-Wood Cemetery is taking in the statue of J. Marion Sims. While history deserves to be shared, a statue is erected for someone who is honorable and strong — not a racist who performed unthinkable acts on defenseless people.” — Rebecca Cetta, Park Slope

“Putting up this statue — even with an explanatory plaque — means celebrating and sanitizing this violent history. If you want to put up a statue that explores the racist history of our country in a thoughtful and responsible way, why not commission a contemporary artist of color to make one?” — Alexandra Bradbury

“Sims is not a hero to be celebrated, but rather a sadistic racist who tortured black women by performing medical experiments on them against their will and without anesthesia, claiming that ‘black women don’t feel pain.’ I don’t understand why you would welcome a statue celebrating such a person into Green-Wood Cemetery.” — Kayla Soyer-Stein

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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