A prominent Queens statue is getting a much closer look this week, now that , D-Forest Hills, and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, D-Jackson Heights, are urging the city to dismantle it and sell it on Craigslist.
The statue in question, a two-story tall depiction of a nearly-nude man with a sword standing over the bodies of two women, is entitled “The Triumph of Civic Virtue.” Local leaders said it should come down because of its depiction of female forms.
The statue, commissioned in the early 20th Century, originally stood in front of City Hall in Manhattan, but was removed and placed at its current location — in a park adjacent to Queens Borough Hall — by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1941.
“Mayor LaGuardia had it right when he banished this offensive statue from City Hall Park,” Weiner said. “Queens residents don’t want this sitting in our backyard any longer. This statue is neither civil nor virtuous — and it’s time for it to go.”
According to information from the Kew Gardens Civic Association, LaGuardia was sick of the statue not because of its depiction of women, but because the statue's bare rear end faced the City Hall entrance that he used every day.
Weiner said the original plan was to post the statue on online auction house eBay, but that they “couldn’t find an employee of the UPS store willing to give us a price estimate on the shipping.”
Ferreras, who chairs the women’s issues committee in the City Council, said that 70 years is long enough for the statue to stay in Queens.
“One of the biggest things we do in my office is make sure that women go to the Family Justice Center after they’ve been identified as victims of domestic violence. That’s the very center that’s one block from here,” Ferreras said. “So women get off of this subway stop, and have to look at this statue twenty-feet high of a man stepping on two women, and then have to go and get services on domestic violence a block away.”
When asked why now was the time to crusade for the removal of the statue, Weiner cited the current political climate in Washington. He said that recent attempts to make changes to the Hyde amendment — which prohibits federal funding for abortions — and the defunding of Planned Parenthood represent an assault on women that should be met with resistance.
At Friday’s press conference, several opponents of the statue's removal said it does not depict oppression of women, but man’s triumph over allegorical obstacles. One protestor claimed the statue is not sexist, because the bodies being stepped on are serpents, representing vice, that have taken the form of women.
Weiner said that if the city fails to find an estate or collector interested in the statue, it should consider finding a tarp to drape over it.