The Quito native, who moved to Queens when she was a teenager, was elected to the Supreme Court in 2014.
Velasquez stood alongside Borough President Melinda Katz and former Borough President Claire Shulman on Tuesday to dedicate the Women’s Plaza in Queens outside Borough Hall. The three represent some of the leading women forging a path for future leaders in politics and law.
“It was a wonderful moment,” Velasquez said. “I feel privileged that I’m able to stand with women like Melinda and Claire, but most of all, with the women who have come before me in this great borough of Queens.”
Prior to the public plaza, the “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue stood on that same spot. The statue depicted a naked man standing over two women who represented vice and corruption.
Velasquez remembered walking by the statue when she was young and wondered, “What’s going on?”
“It was a very vivid and lucid representation of the male, even genitals, which is not something that you want to bring your child to walk by,” she said. “It was offensive, in my view. It represented oppression.”
Velasquez said she felt it was inappropriately placed next to a governmental building, and should’ve belonged in a museum or other homes for artistic expression.
“It was a demonstration of how we felt about women,” she said. “I did not like that.
Though she did not have many women mentors in the legal profession, Velasquez has paid it forward by mentoring young women now.
“This signifies a tremendous step forward for equality in this borough,” she said.