The controversy over Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s decision to temporarily remove the Katyn memorial heated up Tuesday, as Councilmen Rich Boggiano and Michael Yun spearheaded a press conference to announce a lawsuit had been filed.
Both Yun and Boggiano said that Fulop should have first sought public input before deciding to temporarily remove the monument from Exchange Place during renovations of the city-owned plaza. They had some harsh words for their longtime political adversary.
“The mayor must realize that while the City of Jersey City has a strong mayor, the council form of government is not a hospitable place for aristocrats!”
“As members of this council, we don’t relinquish unlimited control to the mayor. Last month he unilaterally stopped all demolitions in the City. This month he’s playing one-part historian, one part art critic by relocating this monument by fiat,” they said.
Apparently, the mayor isn’t the only one who is in favor of temporarily removing the controversial monument.
Mack-Cali CEO Mike DeMarco, the company that is paying for the renovations to the plaza even though the city owns the land, has said that the monument, which displays a Polish officer being stabbed in the back with a bayonette, as “gruesome.”
During the press conference, we asked for the councilmens’ reaction to DeMarco.
“What! Listen, that monument represents everybody that was massacred, not only on this side of the river, but on the other side of the river,” Boggiano said.
“To say something like that, that I haven’t heard but that is wrong. It’s not grotesque. People know what went on in the Second World War. He needs to smarten up.”
HCV interviewed Boggiano after the press conference to ask if the monument is too controversial for Jersey City.
“Heck no! It’s a statue that represents the past, it represents what went on in history and in this world,” he added.
Yun chimed in, “No, I don’t think so. People in Jersey City are smart enough to know that what the Mayor is trying to do is wrong,”
We also interviewed Slawek Platta, of the New York-based Platta Law firm, who is representing plaintiffs to place a temporary injunction against the removal of the Katyn Monument.
“I’m a Polish community leader and also a candidate to the State Senate in New York, and this action is not only by lawyers, but is a Polish community action. This unites Polish people in the United States, Poland and everywhere else in the world,” he explained.
“Everyone knows that Katyn [is the result of] 22,000 dead soldiers that were executed by the Soviets. No one will ever forget this, said Platta.
Attorney Bill Matsikoudis, who unsuccessfully ran against Fulop in November, is also providing legal representation in the case.
In a statement, Fulop, who tweeted over the weekend that the statue would “100 percent” be moved to a new location, called the whole situation “political grandstanding.”
“This is just political grandstanding. Imagine the precedence if a court ruled that once a statue is in a place it is entitled to that location for eternity,” he said.
“The reality is that we remain committed to building a park for Jersey City residents and placing a statue at a new location in Jersey City.”
Last week, he traded shots with Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, who offered to take the Katyn memorial if Jersey City didn’t want it any more.
In response, Fulop quoted Tupac Shakur before stating the statue would not be leaving Jersey City.
Fulop has taken a beating on social media since this issue arose, fielding dozens of critical, often hate-filled tweets, regardless of what other issues he attemtps to discuss.
We live streamed the entire press conference to our Facebook Page, see below:
Jersey City Council members discuss future plans for the Katyn Memorial at Exchange Place.
Posted by Hudson County View on Tuesday, May 8, 2018