The mayor ordered 11 photographs in a Vietnam War exhibit that made some people "literally sick to their stomach" moved from City Hall lobbies to a less traveled corridor, an official said Friday.
Joseph Carbone, an aide to Mayor Biagio DiLieto, said the rest of the exhibit, 56 photographs, remained in the lobbies.DiLieto feared the material was too graphic for children who regularly visit the building on tours, Carbone said. In addition, he said, some city employees complained after seeing the photographs.
But veterans said the point of the traveling exhibit is to illustrate the horrors of war, and that moving the offending photographs undermined the message.
"I think the exhibit is the most powerful anti-war statement I've seen. If people have to be made a little uncomfortable to understand what war is about, I think that's fine. It's worth the jolt," said Ernest Amabile, director of the New York State Vietnam Memorial, which owns the collection.
Joe Tomorrow, an artist and Vietnam veteran who helped city officials hang the exhibit earlier this week, said the mayor's action was "very insulting to the spirit of the photographers who died to take the pictures."
All 67 photographs were taken by news photographers who were killed in the war or are listed as missing in action.
"I can respect that some people may be disturbed by it, but I think they should also realize there is freedom of speech," Tomorrow said.
The 11 photos show dead or wounded soldiers and civilians, including one of bodies of 13 Vietnamese lying face down on a mud flat and another of a medic attending to a young girl with a hole in her thigh.
Carbone said the mayor, by not removing the 11 photographs entirely, sought to accommodate people who wanted to see the entire exhibit and those who may find the most graphic pictures too painful.
Most of the 15 previous exhibits of the collection have been at art galleries or museums, but the show has been displayed at a private high school and in a lobby of the state government complex in Albany, N.Y.