A statue depicting abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York, was damaged after it was removed from its base.
The statue in Maplewood Park was toppled from its base over the weekend and left near the Genesee River gorge. It was found around 50 feet from its pedestal and “had been placed over the fence to the gorge and was leaning against the fence.”
Both the base and lower part of the statue were damaged as well as a finger on its left hand. According to police, there was no sign of graffiti on the statue, which is now getting repaired, or in the park.
A Frederick Douglas statue in Maplewood Park was removed from its base overnight. pic.twitter.com/J43hqxuHTT
— Atyia Collins (@Atyia_Collins) July 5, 2020
— Ben Densieski (@BenDensieski) July 5, 2020
Its removal coincided with both Independence Day weekend and Douglass’s July 5, 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.” The former slave, who escaped slavery in 1838, delivered the speech in Rochester, during which he said the Fourth of July from a slave’s perspective was “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”
“Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common,” he said. “This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
Statues, monuments, and memorials have been the target of protesters and rioters across the country in recent weeks as demonstrators call for an end to police brutality and systemic racism following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Some local governments have agreed to take down statues honoring controversial figures. Most of those vandalized or removed depicted Confederate leaders, slave owners, and others tied to racism or oppression.
It is unclear why the Douglass statue was targeted, and police have not yet provided information on a suspect behind the vandalism.
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