UNION SQUARE, Manhattan – You may or may not recognize their faces or even know what they’ve done, but real people are replicated in life-size statues now put on pedestals in Union Square.
Joseph Reginella is the sculptor behind the statues.
“They’re just your average everyday people that just do extraordinary things for total strangers,” Reginella said.
When monuments of controversial figures were torn down last summer during Black Lives Matter protests, many Americans started questioning who should be put up on pedestals?
At this one-day only installation, there are five statues. One is of an undocumented Mexican immigrant man who saved a 6-year-old girl from being abducted. Another statue is of a Jewish security guard in London who protected mosques in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Caroline McKinnon, a volunteer with I Am Your Protector, the organization behind the statues, says they wanted to question who is being idolized.
“We wanted to highlight people who stepped out of their own comfort zone often putting themselves at risk in order to help protect somebody else,” McKinnon said.
One statue that may look familiar is of Wesley Autrey who was standing in person next to his replica on Thursday. He became a global overnight sensation after saving a man on the subway tracks in 2007.
“It’s an honor to be known as one of the protectors because with what’s going on today, we’ve got a lot racial tension,” Autrey said. “We’ve got a lot of injustice.”
Reginella created the monuments with the help of fellow artist Alvin Pettit and says the response is overwhelming.
“Some people are actually moved to tears over it which is pretty amazing,” Reginella said.
Also showcased is a Syrian refugee who saved a drowning man in Amsterdam. Plus, a Muslim woman who gave out free, clean drinking water in Flint, Michigan.
Reginella’s message is that we’re all in this together, so let’s look out for one another.