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Brooklyn residents say they don’t want the statue of the doctor who experimented on female slaves

Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 17:04:53-04

The statue of a doctor who experimented on enslaved women was removed from Central Park this week, but now it’s in Brooklyn and residents there say they don’t want it either.

Some of them have petitioned to keep J. Marion Sims’ statue out of their neighborhood. It’s already there, though – just in storage until it reaches its final destination.

Sims’ statue is at The Green-Wood Cemetery, where Sims is buried. Workers there placed it into storage Tuesday until Green-Wood can construct a historical display to put his life and work into context. Once that’s built, they’ll move the statue near Sims’ grave.

The cemetery accepted the statute under a long-term loan agreement with New York, cemetery President Richard Moylan said. People who visit his grave now would see an obelisk marked “Founder of the N.Y. State Woman’s Hospital.”

“An uninformed visitor would not know his whole history. Placing the sculpture near his gravesite is not meant to glorify him. Rather, it is a visual focal point that will bring attention to a factual display that Green-Wood will build to document Sims’ story including his shameful experimentation on enslaved women in the South between 1845 and 1849,” Moylans said. “As a National Historic Landmark, the responsibility to preserve this history, and not to whitewash it, is something Green-Wood takes very seriously.”

But some Brooklyn residents say they’re “totally opposed” to the statue’s relocation into their borough.

“The cemetery management claims the statue is educational — but statues are designed to honor the people they represent, and this statue is a monument to Sims’ racist legacy,” the petition reads.

The sculpture depicts Sims heroically, South Brooklyn resident and art historian Dr. Mya Dosch said. Adding historic information won’t change that.

“Though Greenwood has committed to adding contextual panels, the first view that casual visitors to Green-Wood cemetery will encounter is the celebratory image of a large-scale statue placed next to a gravesite,” Dosch said.