A Texas community is up in arms after a popular gorilla statue was removed from its cage at a carnival-themed playground due to complaints that it was “racially insensitive.”
“Dobby” the gorilla was removed on Monday after proudly standing in the Corsicana Community Park for 19 years.
Dobby’s removal spurred the creation of a makeshift memorial, a Facebook page called “In Memory Of Dobby,” an online petition on Change.org calling for the statue to be returned, a protest song, and a candlelight vigil that took place Wednesday night.
One protester vowed to remain inside the cage until the statue is returned.
Stan Lawhon posted a video of himself performing his protest song, in which he lamented: “Where-o-where could our gorilla be? The city took him away from me …”
The city alerted residents in a Facebook post that the gorilla was removed because “it was determined to be potentially racially insensitive.”
Corsicana Mayor Don Denbow made the same point in a letter to the Corsicana Daily Sun Tuesday evening. The mayor said there had always been complaints about the display, but they had increased in recent years, paralleling the rise of political correctness and victim culture.
About 45 complaints led to the removal of Dobby, Denbow said.
But disappointment over the gorilla’s removal was voiced by people of a variety of races in interviews with the local Fox News affiliate. In fact, the local media has been unable to find anyone who actually supported the boneheaded move.
“It’s like part of the childhood,” one local resident said. “I used to play here.” He told Fox 4 that there should have been a vote on it.
A woman said that “if they’re really that sensitive there’s a whole lotta things they can do. They can come vote. If they’re really sensitive they can come to the city commission’s meeting.”
“The gorilla’s been here since I can remember,” a young mother complained. “My kids know this park as the gorilla park.”
The 500-pound statue was kept in a cage for safety reasons, Denbow told Fox 4.
“When they first put it up 19 years ago, they went and watched kids on it and it was swaying back and forth,” the mayor explained.
In response to the backlash, the city promised that Dobby would return to the park, but perhaps not back inside the cage. Corsicana city council member Jeff Smith announced on Facebook Wednesday that the gorilla would come back “as soon as weather permits.”
“This was brought to our attention by a few citizens,” the mayor said. “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.”