Steve Wynn is gone, but his shadow lingers.
It doesn’t have to.
The new Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett is more than half built, but Steve Wynn’s name hasn’t been installed atop the 27-story structure yet.
Now that the casino mogul has resigned from the company that bears his name in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations and investigations launched here and in Las Vegas, Massachusetts has a rare opportunity to get out from under this man’s shadow for good.
Emblazoning Wynn’s name on our skyline forever would send a ghoulish message to the countless women here and elsewhere who have been subjected to the kind of misconduct Wynn stands accused of perpetrating.
And what would it say about us?
“Take the time and ask yourself: What values does that show?” said Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. The organization provides critically important support for survivors of sexual violence and rarely gets involved in political disputes. But on Thursday, BARCC released a statement urging the Gaming Commission, Governor Charlie Baker, and other state leaders to demand the removal of Wynn’s name from the project.
“We must do this not because survivors of sexual assault need to be shielded from Wynn’s name. They do not,” Scaramella said in the statement. “Survivors routinely navigate hundreds of reminders of what they’ve experienced in their daily lives.”
Survivors already steel themselves against those reminders and doing this out of some dubious notion of their fragility would be misguided.
Rather, Scaramella said, “We must do this because our community and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should not get stuck with a monument to a man forced out of his job due to multiple allegations of sexual assault, and whose name now joins those of other high-profile offenders of sexual violence, including Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar.”
A renamed casino would be an eternal reminder that this place and its people really do care about women and we will not tolerate sexual misconduct.
“That could be a signal, and the willingness of state officials to take this opportunity to show leadership would, I think, be pretty impressive,” Scaramella said.
It’s not just a building. This city’s totems are crucial parts of our identity. Paul Revere’s house isn’t even 3 miles from the Wynn site. The Bunker Hill monument? It’s right across the Mystic River.
All over the country, we are arguing about the appropriateness of monuments to men from history whose values most now agree were abhorrent. In those cases, we must wrestle with the greatest shames of our past and consider how best to acknowledge that history.
But this isn’t that. If anything, it should be easier.
Wynn has denied the allegations, first reported by the Wall Street Journal. But already, other communities are moving to remove Wynn’s name despite his denials. The University of Pennsylvania has taken his name off a plaza on campus and revoked Wynn’s honorary degree. A petition to rename Wynn Boulevard in Las Vegas is gaining steam.
Here, it’s not even up yet. Letting the Wynn name be installed on that building, even as other communities are erasing it, would be like buying some other city’s statue of a Confederate general and installing it on the Common.
Wynn’s resignation did not end the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s investigation into the company’s worthiness to hold a prized casino license here, and that’s as it should be.
Reports allege misbehavior that spanned decades, and it’s hard to imagine that continuing without enablers along the way. We may yet learn that the company itself is irredeemable, in which case the state will have to pull the license and restart the process. That would be costly for the state, even if Wynn Resorts can reach an agreement to sell its unfinished property to whoever ends up with the license.
But what we already know is that Steve Wynn’s name does not belong alongside Paul Revere’s. His logo has no place near the Freedom Trail. We should not have to look upon his lights from Bunker Hill.
We should never have to walk in Steve Wynn’s shadow.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.