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Noose Statue Stirs Debate

Art is a medium that often seeks to go beyond being creative. Great artists seek to provoke thought, a move that often causes controversy.

And Aaron Bell is doing exactly that with his latest work. The sculpture, which is housed in Manhattan’s Riverside park, is making many uncomfortable. It’s a sculpted iron figure that says almost nothing, but the noose around its neck speaks volumes.

“From the initial concept, I’ve had a noose,” Bell told ABC 7. “In essence, the piece stands for humanity against hate. Hate against race, hate against every ethnic group, hate against religion.”

The Parks Department liked Bell’s sculpture, but thought the noose was a bit much for park attendees. So they commissioned the piece without the noose. At one point the department suggested Bell use a heart-shaped noose.

“This is not a hate or love thing, this is a clear denouncement against hate, period,” Bell said. “You’re talking about some heart, this is not a kumbaya moment.”

When Bell was in his 20s, he was assaulted by a group of young, white men. The beating left him without a vocal cord.

While Bell speaks more softly these days, he cannot be silenced. And the park district heard him loud and clear when he did not back down regarding the inclusion of a noose as part of his sculpture.

“Yesterday at 2:00 at the arsenal, we went and met. And in 10 minutes time, I got a public apology, they realized that they were wrong,” Bell said.

The sculpture is expected to be completed in two weeks.