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Controversial Statue Of Dr. J. Marion Sims Removed From Central Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Parks Department removed a controversial statue Tuesday from Central Park.

After 84 years in Central Park, the granite base of the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims is now empty. The statue was taken down with little fanfare and carted off in a Parks Department truck, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

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The move was part of the decision by Mayor Bill de Blasio with input from the city's Monument Commission.

A sign left behind read: "By order of Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Parks has relocated the statue of Dr. James Marion Sims to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Sims is buried. Plans are being developed to commission a new monument on this site."

Sims, who has been referred to as "the father of gynecology," performed surgical experiments of female slaves without anesthesia.

Of all the controversial city statues considered by the commission in their review, Sim's monument is the only one being moved.

"We are just excited by the decision of the commission and also by the decision of the mayor," the commission's John Calvelli said in January.

De Blasio said he hopes to see both sides of the story.

"It's very complex, it's not pretty," he said Tuesday. "In some ways it's very painful but it's not just one or the other side."

He described the decision to place the statue in Green-Wood Cemetery "a fair way to address a very thorny situation."

During the intense public debate, several statues were defaced, including the Theodore Roosevelt statue in front of the Museum of Natural History and a smaller statue of Christopher Columbus.

De Blasio decided the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle would remain. But historical markers will be erected in the circle to explain what detractors say was his insensitivity to Native Americans.

The mayor also chose to leave the plaque to Henri Philippe Petain where it is in the Canyon of Heroes. He was a World War I hero who later collaborated with the Nazis.

The decision was a huge letdown for Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

"I am incredibly disappointed," he said.

The commission said Petain and another Nazi collaborator, Pierre Laaval, should stay because to remove them would mean all 206 people honored in the Canyon of Heroes would have to go.

Sources tell CBS2's Kramer discussions on what to do with the former site of the Sims statute have centered on honoring a woman who has made contributions to women, possibly a woman of color.

For more information from the commission, click here.

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