ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A statue of Nathaniel Rochester that sits in the South Wedge neighborhood in the City of Rochester has been vandalized.
“Shame,” “white supremacist,” and “profited of slavery” are some of the words painted over the statue of the city’s founder in Nathaniel Square Park at the corner of South Avenue and Alexander Street. Other messages painted on the statue include “slavery capitalist,” “abolish police,” and “cancel rent.”
According to local historians, “The founder of our city, Colonel National Rochester brought his slaves with him when he moved here from Maryland. Although he freed them, some stayed as domestic employees,” and Rochester’s ownership of slaves during this period of his life is well-documented and undisputed.”
“I don’t think the story of Rochester’s ownership of slaves has been well known in this community,” said Rochester city historian, Christine Ridarsky.
Ridarsky said when Rochester moved to New York State, New York was already in the process of emancipating slaves.
“The one most documented case was of a young girl who was considered a minor, so within a day or so of him manumitting her, the court placed her in his care because she was considered an orphan and was assigned back to Nathaniel Rochester. So it kind of worked in his benefit because now not only did he continue to benefit from her labor, but he was paid to do so because he was paid as a caretaker.”
Some people who live in the neighborhood where the statue is located said it needs to go and that the man it honors doesn’t represent our community’s values.
“We have people in position of power right now to make changes for our people and that statue needs to be removed because it doesn’t stand what we stand for,” said Timothy Williams.
Ridarsky said she’ll likely be offering advice to the city’s new task force about what to do about the statue going forward.
This local act is one of dozens happening nationwide as protesters are working to call attention to the racist history of some city’s establishment. A statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded in Boston. In Virginia, protesters tore down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.