A statue of a gorilla in a community playground was removed because some people found the children’s plaything racially insensitive.
The gorilla, which had stood for 19 years in the playground in Corsicana, Texas, was removed by city workers.
“We can understand this, because we have an obligation to listen to all our citizens, to determine what is offensive and not, especially in public places,” said Corsicana Mayor Don Denbow, CBS-DFW reported.
“Denbow saw an uptick in complaints about the playground primate during the last few weeks. There were more and more phone calls, and personal discussions, and he, the city manager and a city council member, decided it needed to come down,” the TV station said.
The mayor said in a statement: “The City of Corsicana has recently made the decision to remove a display in Community Park,” the letter stated. “It was determined to be potentially racially insensitive. This was brought to our attention by a few citizens. The circumstances were evaluated and determined to be valid. It was not possible to leave the gorilla without the cage due to safety reasons. The statue was top heavy and was caged initially to protect the children. The cage will be left and turned into a climbing feature. The City will look at replacing the display in the future.”
Memorials have sprung up around where the gorilla, dubbed Dobby, which included signs, bananas, flowers, candles, stuffed animals and even beer. One site on Facebook is called “In Memory of Dobby.” A petition was created on the website change.org and called #GorillaGate2018.
The mayor said he was open to the idea of the gorilla returning “in some form” after a backlash from people who wanted the statue to remain in the park.
“It was a little strange, a little random, very unexpected,” one protestor told CBS 11 News.
A candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday night at the playground as a “show of solidarity and a statement that the people of Corsicana will no longer back down and look the other way while those in power get to do whatever they please,” according to a Facebook post by the the event organizers.
After the hubub, one Corsicana city councilman posted on Facebook that the gorilla will be returned once “weather permits.”
Long live Dobby!