Activists seek removal of Robert Moses, William Floyd statues over ties to slavery, racism

Groups are mobilizing with calls to remove statues of Robert Moses in Babylon Village and William Floyd in Shirley.

News 12 Staff

Jun 19, 2020, 7:46 PM

Updated 1,494 days ago

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Activists on Long Island want statues of Robert Moses and William Floyd removed from two Long Island locations due to their ties to the nation's divisive past.
The death of George Floyd has sparked protests across the nation and calls for change. Here on the Island, some groups are mobilizing with calls to remove statues of Robert Moses in Babylon Village and William Floyd in Shirley.
A Change.org petition started by Deanna McGee, of Shirley, calling for the Floyd statue's removal has more than 2,800 signatures. Floyd was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but he was also a slave owner.
"I don't care that he only had a certain amount of slaves or that people think that he treated his slaves well.  There's no such thing as a good slave owner," says McGee.
Beth Wahl is part of the William Floyd Community Summit, a local group that chose the statue's location. She says she understands their message but defends the statue.
"He was a wonderful patriot," says Wahl. "Yes he owned slaves and that's a horrible horrible thing given what we know now. Back then, if you owned a larger land mass, you owned slaves. That was the norm. It's certainly not the norm now, and it was terrible. But we can't go back and change what happened."
Organizers of the petition to remove the Robert Moses statue say he left behind a legacy of prejudice that targeted the Black and Jewish communities and then supported tactics that led to housing segregation on the Island.
One of the Change.org petition's supporters writes that "racism is still present in the town and this is one step towards change."  But others like those who helped to fund and place the statue tell News 12 Long Island they'll fight to keep it.


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