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Credible threat against Cox statue in Tompkins Square Park?

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Sun., July 26, 6:30 p.m.: Is Samuel Cox next?

Statues of Confederates and slave owners around the country have been toppled, torn apart, torched and tossed into lakes.

If they’re lucky, they’ve only been vandalized with paint, as happened to the two likenesses of slave-owning Founding Father George Washington on the Washington Square Arch in late June.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, police apparently have intel that social-justice warriors may now be zeroing in on the statue of Samuel Sullivan Cox in Tompkins Square Park.

About a week ago, the monument to the former Ohio and New York congressmember was tagged with “ACAB,” the currently in-vogue anti-police slogan “All Cops Are Bastards,” and an anarchy symbol.

This Saturday afternoon a detail of cops were spotted standing protectively near the statue, in the East Village park’s southwest corner. Movable metal police barricades had also been newly placed along the side of the park path at that spot. The barriers’ purpose wasn’t immediately clear — perhaps they were to be deployed, if necessary, if a crowd formed?

Police were posted near the Samuel Cox statue on Sat., July 25. (Photo by Trigger)

Trigger, the former owner of the Continental, on Third Ave. near St. Mark’s Place — one of Joey Ramone’s favorite music venues — sent The Village Sun photos from the park on Saturday around 4:30 p.m.

“Right now in Tompkins,” he texted the Sun. “Cops heard that protesters are gonna take down this statue of Samuel S Cox!”

Asked if he was certain the police were there to guard the statue, he said, absolutely.

“Yes 100%,” he said. “I asked a cop and that’s what he said and they barricaded the statue.

“Samuel Cox was anti Emancipation,” he added.

The photographer said the police told him they were guarding the Samuel Cox statue. (Photo by Trigger)

Indeed, he was. Based alone on a speech that Cox, then an Ohio representative, gave in 1862 condemning emancipation, one could see why statue-toppling vigilantes might now be eagerly eyeing his Tompkins monument.

In the speech, Cox stoked fears that ending slavery would spark a flood of “millions” of southern blacks migrating to Ohio who would compete for jobs with whites.

“It is an absurdity to say that two races as dissimilar as black and white, of different origin, of unequal capacity, can succeed in the same society when placed in competition,” Cox scoffed. “There is no such example in history of the success of two separate races under such circumstances.”

Cox was not alone among northern Democrats in calling for slavery to be maintained, and his speech voiced many of their concerns.

Trigger was not the only one to notice the police presence. Another East Villager, Carla Jean, posted on Facebook on Saturday about it, noting how “all of those cops showed up to guard the statue.”

By Sunday, police had subsequently extended the barricades out onto the path by 5 or 6 feet to create what Trigger termed “a moat” around Cox.

On Sun., July 26, police extended the metal barricades to create a protective “moat” around the Samuel Cox statue. (Photo by Trigger)

A police spokesperson said he did not have information on officers specifically protecting the Cox statue over the weekend, but he said many spots around the city are currently getting extra police details.

“I have nothing on that,” he said of the alleged threat to the Tompkins monument. “We got cops standing in front of things all over the city right now because of the ongoing situation — any kind of landmark or place where people gather.”

As first reported by The Village Sun, cops are now guarding the Washington Square Arch around the clock to prevent another attack against it.

After losing his seat in Ohio in 1864, Cox moved to New York, where he was reelected to Congress in 1868.

The statue of him — which originally stood at Astor Place and Fourth Ave. — was funded by $10,000 raised by postal workers after his death. Cox was known as the “Letter Carrier’s Friend” for passing legislation leading to paid benefits and a 40-hour workweek for postal employees.

But he clearly was not black people’s friend.

Alan Singer, a Hofstra University professor, has written about New York City statues of racist figures.

Writing in 2014, Singer did not advocate for removing the East Village Cox statue but called for adding an explanatory plaque nearby.

Speaking on East Village journalist Paul DeRienzo’s WBAI radio show two years ago, the professor — about 15 minutes in — called the little-known Cox statue “one of the weirdest ones.”

“He was a champion of slavery,” he said.

3 Comments

  1. Paul DeRienzo Paul DeRienzo July 26, 2020

    Interestingly, Cox actually voted against accepting the Kansas “Lecompton Constitution” in the 1850s that would have accepted Kansas as a slave state and was part of the “bleeding Kansas” war right before the U.S. Civil War. Without Kansas, the slave power was assured defeat in Congress, which was a major cause of the war. It seems Cox was a “Copperhead” or “war Democrat” who supported the Union, but was a racist at heart.

  2. Harold Appel Harold Appel July 27, 2020

    Thanks, Paul. A bit of scholarship is always welcome.

  3. Bonnie Bonnie July 27, 2020

    Waiting for all traces of Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg and Walt Disney to be erased, all three virulent anti-Semites. Ford owned a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent (The Ford International Weekly) that was dedicated to inflammatory anti-Semitic rhetoric. I’m sure racism went along with all that. My father would never buy a Ford car.

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