Corsicana removes gorilla statue from park amid racial complaints

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To some, the caged gorilla statue was a signature playground feature at a Corsicana park for nearly two decades. For others, it was racially insensitive. So the city decided to remove it.

The 500-pound gorilla was the centerpiece of Corsicana's Community Park up until Monday when the mayor and city manager had it removed and hit a nerve in the process.

“It’s been interesting to me,” said Corsicana Mayor Don Denbow. “Never thought that it would cause such a ruckus.”

Signs and angry social media posts are taking jabs at the mayor at a growing memorial at the now-empty cage.

The mayor said the city received about 45 complaints about the caged statue that led to the removal. The city alerted residents through its Facebook page with a post saying, "It was determined to be potentially racially insensitive."

“If they were that sensitive, they would do a whole lot of things like come vote,” said resident Gertrude Richardson. “If they are really sensitive, they could come to the city commissioners meeting.”

“The gorilla has been here since I can remember,” said resident Jenna Burkes. “My kids know this park as the Gorilla Park.”

The gorilla is one of several animal statues at the park. The mayor said he doesn't know why it specifically was chosen 18 years ago but said it was caged out of concern for safety.

“When they first put it up 18 years ago, they went and watched kids on it,” Denbow said. “And it would swing back and forth. And this is a piece of art that weighs close to 500 pounds.”

“I just think it's sad that the gorilla is gone, and we didn't have a say so,” Burkes said.

One city council member said the decision will be reversed and the statue will be back soon. The city has not confirmed that.

Mayor Denbow asked people to be patient. He said he wants to come to the right conclusion and make sure things are done in a tasteful way. The city has plans to add additional animals to the park, including a free-standing gorilla and a tiger.