Raw emotions are coming out in Waterbury after the city prominently displays a whipping post from the 1700s on the newly remodeled green.
Those who know the history don't argue it initially was solely used for whipping.
However, in later years, after slavery was over, they say it became a bulletin board. It was always on the green, so when it was remodeled, city officials didn't think to remove it.
“This was part of the official judicial system,” said Rachel Guest, the Silas Bronson Library director.
She said each town in Connecticut had to have a whipping post.
White and black people were whipped there, but slaves did have extra laws to abide by.
“You had to be in your house by 9 p.m. at night or you would be whipped. If you were accused of theft and couldn't defend yourself, you would be whipped, and if you were accused of slander and couldn't defend yourself, you would be whipped,” Guest said.
Some residents are upset that the piece is still there.
“I can just imagine what my people would think when they would see that, they knew they were coming to the pole...'oh my God’,” said Mark Greene, of Waterbury.
When slavery ended, historians say the posts transitioned to bulletin boards.
“It eventually evolved with state law, that you had to have that sign post with all the official local government notices posted on it and that continued to the middle of the 20th century,” Guest said.
As the years went by, the post in Waterbury stayed.
“In any museum, you'll see that. They highlight this thing in the museum,” Greene said.
The mayor's office says it's still verifying what the post was used for and will debate the fate of it later. Locals are hoping they get rid of it and put it in the past for good.
Some didn't learn about its painful history, and Guest says it showed when the green was recently renovated.
“It was actually maybe going to be thrown away and someone said this has been on the green forever. It should be saved. People who were making the decisions did not know about the whipping part of the history,” Guest said.
While the city is still talking this over, Guest says a decision needs to be made soon because as you see it's stirring up strong emotions.
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