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Frederick Douglass statue vandalized at Rochester park

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Police are investigating an act of vandalism, after a statue of Frederick Douglass was removed from its base at Maplewood Park during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Leaders from Re-energize the legacy of Frederick Douglass are shocked a monument they worked so hard on will have to be replaced.

“This is all that is left at this particularly moment of a monument that we put so much work and thought and love and care into,” said Carvin Eison, Project director, re-energize the legacy of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration.

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Police say they found the statue placed over a fence near the gorge, feet from the statue’s original base, pieces of plaster could be seen left in a pile by the fence.

The act of vandalism comes on the 168th anniversary of Douglass’s speech titled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” delivered in Rochester.

Leaders involved in the monuments creation believe that 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 fever over confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing its beyond disappointing,” said Carvin Eison, Project director, re-energize the legacy of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration.

The statue was one of 13 placed throughout the city in 2018, and this is the second monument to be vandalized.

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Julius Jackson Jr. was there for the first incident, which involved drunk college students, and he is hoping the recent act is also one of unintended mischief.

“We’ve been down this road before I actually spoke to the vandals of the first one,” said Rev. Julius D Jackson Jr., Alpha phi aplah fraternity. “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.

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“I feel to put a monument back here immediately so who ever did this know 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,” said Eison.

The monument has since been taken in for repairs. Police say they are investigating the incident.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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