Statues around America with ties to the country’s confederacy era are sparking huge controversy throughout the nation. Just this past weekend on Saturday, August 19, individuals rallied in New York City to protest against one such statue.

Standing tall on the edge of Central Park near East Harlem, is a statue of James Marion Sims, a once physician, and slave owner who is said to have experimented on enslaved black women without anesthesia and without their consent, according to USA Today.

Dubbed the “father of modern gynecology” Sims was a celebrated gynecologist who is known for developing a surgical technique to repair vesicovaginal fistula– an abnormal connection between the bladder and the female genitalia that often causes urinary incontinence. But the route he took to get there was far from humane.

“At best, J. Marion Sims was a racist man who exploited the institution of racism for his own gain,” protester Seshat Mack, told the NY Daily News. “At best, he was a man who recognized the humanity of black slaves to use them for medical research about the human body — but not enough to recognize and treat their pain during surgery.”

The city has so far refused to remove the monument, but protesters are remaining fervent in their stance to see the statue taken down. Among those protesting to see the statue removed, includes New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been protesting against the monument since 2011, USA Today reported. Community organizations in New York City and Planned Parenthood have also joined the protest.

“At a time when Neo Nazis, white nationalists and hateful right-wing extremists run rampant throughout the country with impunity, we must send a definitive message that the despicable acts of J. Marion Sims are repugnant and reprehensible,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement. She has also called out Mayor de Blasio and the Parks Department saying they must remove the statue.

In addition to the rally, a petition was started 12 months ago for the removal of the statue and has so far accumulated over 900 supporters.

“While we value and learn from the pioneering accomplishments of the founders of modern medicine, we cannot overlook the brutality of Sims’ methods,” the petition states. “It is disturbing that we continue to honor Sims by keeping a statue of him in the shadow of the New York Academy of Medicine. The savagery of his practices require that the statue be taken down.”

The removal of Confederate statues around the country has been a very controversial topic for some time, but even more so recently when a white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlotteville on August 12. In an effort to prevent more violent upheavals as the one in Charlottesville, various state officials across the country have swiftly removed controversial monuments within the past two weeks.

Some of these monuments include: a statue of Roger Taney in Annapolis, Md., which was removed Aug. 18; on Aug. 21, in Austin Tex. two statues of Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston were removed; and, on Aug. 16, the mayor of Baltimore ordered the removal of four monuments.

As for the James Marion Sims statue, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary told USA Today that New York City will be putting a panel of experts together to discuss the matter.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons