Waterbury reacts to decision to remove controversial whipping post from The Green

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Less than a day after Mayor Neil O’Leary announced a controversial wooden post would be removed from the Waterbury Green, it’s gone.

And there are many people, like Fahd Syed, who say good riddance.

“I’m actually very happy,” said Syed.

He was one of the organizers of a demonstration at the post a few weeks ago that created an uproar on social media.

They posted pictures on Facebook of a woman, dressed up as a slave whose hands were tied to the post and just received lashings for breaking rules.

Syed said they wanted people to see what it was used for during the colonial era in the 1700s.

He thinks the mayor did the right thing after speaking with area African-American leaders from The Waterbury Black Clergy and Greater Waterbury NAACP.

“I reached out to some of the leaders who were gonna speak to the mayor’s office and I gave them my insight and they followed it right to the T,” said Syed. “And I thank everyone, including the mayor, The Black Clergy, the NAACP.”

The mayor explained he’s received hundreds of phone calls about the post. He said he had to take many things into consideration, because some people believe — and some history books show — that the post was more known for being a sign post, a bulletin board of sorts, for town governments to post important notices for the public. Or it was also used as a whipping post for all people who didn’t pay court costs or who committed a crime. That’s what Robbin Demonstranti was taught when she was growing up.

“My grandfather was very old and he never told me that slaves were put to that post,” Robbin said. “He did explain to us that it was for messages and it was for — that if you broke the law, no matter who you were, you got strapped to that post and you were lashed in public.”

Robbin says she thinks the mayor made the right call to remove it.

“Because for people it’s a sad memory,” she said. “If you had ancestors back then who lived here who were whipped at that post, no I wouldn’t want to look at that post.”

But, she also says she’s glad it’s being preserved and moved to the Mattatuck Museum across the street because good or bad it is part of Waterbury history.

Details are still being worked out, but the director of the museum told us by phone he would welcome this part of Waterbury history. They’re already trying to set the record straight with a history lesson on their website.

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