JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A judge on Tuesday granted a temporary stay on plans to remove a statue that’s been the source of controversy due to its graphic nature.
It stands in Jersey City, and depicts a scene of violence in an effort to honor fallen soldiers.
Dozens of residents and two council members were in attendance, fighting to keep the Katyn memorial right where it is. The controversy first started when Mayor Steven Fulop announced it would be moved temporarily for a park project at Exchange Place Plaza.
The memorial commemorates the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish soldiers in 1940. It was originally given as a gift and has stood tall on the banks of the Hudson River for decades.
“It’s not only a Polish monument, it’s a monument to everybody who served and were victims in the second world war,” City Councilman Rich Boggiano said.
The pain in the soldier depicted is unmistakable, with his mouth tied as he struggles to take his last breaths. Some are concerned the violence is just too much.
“Then it would have to be explained to children what the rifle in his back is,” Melissa Olivera said.
Still, some recognize it’s a part of history nonetheless. The mayor has taken a different stance, sending out a statement after Tuesday’s protest reading:
Imagine the precedence if a court ruled that once a statue is in a place it is entitled to that location for eternity. The reality is that we remain committed to building a park for Jersey City residents here and placing a statue at a new location in Jersey City.
“We’re building a major park and energizing the entire waterfront for residents that live here, so this is in the public’s interest and you know we’re not going to be dictated to by the people in Poland,” Fulop said last week.
Council Member Michael Yun told members of the press that they won’t be dictated to by him.
“Until the moment we’ve never had one opportunity to sit down together, his actions are very clear,” he said. “He says I’m the boss, I’m going to make the decisions you guys have to follow what he say.”
Residents are planning two more protests in front of the memorial this weekend.