Rochester Police Chief La-Ron Singletary said investigators are reviewing camera footage to determine who ripped the statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass from its base in Maplewood Park on July 5, the anniversary of Douglass’ infamous speech in 1852.
The statue had been situated along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom. According to police, it had been removed to the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50 feet from the pedestal base.
Chief Singletary said, “Right now, for me to guess would be pure speculation,” when asked why this “disheartening” act of vandalism occurred.
Statues of Confederate leaders have been torn down or vandalized around the country recently. But the destruction to this statue honoring this famous abolitionist has launched rampant speculation and accusations.
In Rochester on July 5, 1852, Douglass gave the speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” in which he called the celebration of liberty a sham in a nation that enslaves and oppresses its Black citizens.
To a slave, Douglass said, Independence Day is “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.”
Carvin Eison, a leader of the project that brought the Douglass statue to the park, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle another statue will take its place because the damage is too significant.Full Coverage: Racial injustice
“Is this some type of retaliation because of the national fever over confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing, it’s beyond disappointing,” Eison told WROC.
Statues depicting Confederate leaders have been toppled or vandalized recently around the nation. But the destruction of a statue honoring the famous abolitionist set off a round of public mourning and finger-pointing on social media.
Trump on Monday tweeted a link to an article about the vandalism and said, without providing evidence, that it “shows these anarchists have no bounds!”