The statue, which is situated in the city's Maplewood Park, was ripped from its foundation and thrown over a fence on the 160th anniversary of the delivery of Douglass’s speech, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” in which he called celebrating liberty a sham in a country where black citizens are enslaved and oppressed.
He originally gave the speech on July 5, 1852, and it has been shared widely on social media recently as a reminder of the country's past of racism and slavery.
The statue sat at a site along the Underground Railroad where Harriet Tubman and Douglass helped to bring slaves to freedom. It was found sitting 50 feet from its pedestal near the Genesee River gorge, with damage to its bottom and fingers. It is currently being repaired.
However, a leader of the project that originally brought the statue to the park, Carvin Eison, said that another statue will have to take its place because the damage is too expensive. Eison believes that the country's current focus on race may have played a role in the act of vandalism.
Eison said: "Is this some type of retaliation because of the national fever over Confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing, it's beyond disappointing."
Douglass was born in 1818 as a slave, but escaped during his youth and became a leading abolitionist who worked to end slavery. He lived in Rochester for three decades starting in the mid 1800s. He has been described as one of the most influential African American leaders in the country in the years after the Civil War and was named by President Trump as one of the figures he'd like to see statues dedicated to in a new monument honoring American heroes.
Two years ago, the city placed 13 statues of Douglass throughout Rochester in a celebration of his birth. Two drunk college students who tore down one of the statues shortly after it was erected were later convicted of criminal mischief.
The Reverend Julius Jackson Jr. said he hopes that the incident last weekend is simply another incident involving kids causing trouble rather than something "retaliatory.”
Weighing in on the vandalism, President Trump tweeted: “This shows that these anarchists have no bounds.”
The damage to the statue is currently under investigation, and there have been no indications of a potential political motivation. Police said that there were no signs of graffiti near the statue or anywhere else in the park.
The statue craziness has gotten completely out of hand, and statues of people who spent their lives helping African Americans are also being targeted. For example, Boston’s Democrat mayor Marty Walsh has said that he would like to see an image of Abraham Lincoln that has been in the city's Park Square for almost 150 years torn down because it's an “offensive” reminder of the slave trade – even though Lincoln actually freed slaves. However, because he lived at the same time as slavery, that somehow makes some people feel pain when they see the statue.
The statue, which has been there since 1879, is a replica of one that was built using funds that were contributed by freed slaves. If freed slaves themselves wanted the statue, why do white liberals today want to take it down so badly?
There really could be any number of reasons that the Douglass statue was damaged in Rochester, and it’s not safe to assume the perpetrators were white. You can’t use logic to try to explain people’s actions because reason clearly went out the window a long time ago.
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