ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Police are investigating an act of vandalism after a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was removed from its base at a park during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“This is all that is left at this particular moment of a monument that we put so much work and thought and love and care into,” said Carvin Eison, project director of Re-energize the legacy of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration.
The vandalism comes on the 168th anniversary of Douglass’ speech titled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” delivered in Rochester in 1852.
Leaders involved in the monument’s creation say current national focus on race could have played a role in this.
“What comes of this? Is this some type of retaliation because of the national ferver over Confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing — it’s beyond disappointing,” said Eison.
“We’ve been down this road before. I actually spoke to the vandals of the first one,” said Rev. Julius D. Jackson Jr. “I would like to believe it’s not that, it was just some kids. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s some retaliatory something going on.”
Maplewood Park was picked for the monument because of the link to the underground railroad.
“I feel to put a monument back here immediately so whoever did this knows that we are not going to be deterred from what our objective is, and our objective is to continually celebrate Frederick Douglass,” said Eison.
“They can topple over this monument, they could go topple over all of them, this monument will still stand because the ideas behind it are bigger than the monument,” he said.
The monument has since been taken in for repairs.