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6 Jul, 2020 00:04

Statue for black abolitionist Frederick Douglass in NY state beyond repair after it was ripped down by vandals (PHOTOS)

Statue for black abolitionist Frederick Douglass in NY state beyond repair after it was ripped down by vandals (PHOTOS)

A statue for Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a prominent civil rights advocate, has been torn down from its pedestal in Rochester, New York. The damage to the monument is reportedly too significant to repair.

The statue was vandalized over the July 4th weekend, Rochester police told local media on Sunday. 

Photos from the scene show an empty spot where the statue used to stand in Maplewood Park, as well as its debris scattered in the vicinity. The statue was lying 50 feet from its pedestal when officers found it.

The statue "had been placed over the fence to the gorge and was leaning against the fence," police said in a statement, as cited by The Democrat and Chronicle daily.

Carvin Eison, director of the ‘Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass’ project, said the monument is beyond repair and will need to be replaced.

"It's particularly painful that it happened at this time," he said.

Dozens of statues have been knocked off their pedestals across the country in a monument-toppling spree championed by Black Lives Matter activists, which see it as a way of reckoning with the nation’s troubling legacy of slavery and racism. While the initial targets of the protesters were Confederate generals, later vandalism, which met little resistance from law enforcement, saw the statues of Christopher Columbus and other historical figures being removed as well.

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It’s so far unclear who was behind the Douglass statue incident.

The monument, inaugurated in 2018 to mark Douglass’ 200th birthday, is part of a city-wide installation consisting of 13 statues – all replicas of a larger statue of Douglass, which was unveiled in Rochester’s Highland Park neighborhood in 1899. The statues were placed throughout the city in places of significance to the abolitionist’s life in a bid to bolster his legacy. 

In a speech in 1852, Douglass made a case against celebrating July 4th by African Americans, saying: “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

It’s not the first time the installation has been targeted by vandals. In December 2018, two students from Rochester’s St. John Fisher College were arrested and charged with misdemeanors after they were filmed dismantling one of the statues and stealing it. The students claimed they were drunk and later apologized, calling what they had done to the statue “a terrible thing,” and offered to help repair the monument.

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