President Trump on Frederick Douglass statue vandalism: ‘Anarchists have no bounds’

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — President Donald Trump and other national leaders are weighing in on the vandalism of a Frederick Douglass statue in Rochester over the holiday weekend.

The statue of the abolitionist was ripped from its base in Rochester on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in that city in 1852.

Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglas and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom.

The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50 feet from its pedestal, police said. There was damage to the base and a finger.

The statue was one of 13 placed throughout the city in 2018, as part of a citywide, yearlong celebration of Douglass’ 200th birthday, and this is the second monument to be vandalized.

Back then, police determined two drunk college students were behind the mischief. Police continue to investigate the incident this time around, but there has been no word from officials regarding possible suspects or a motivation at this time.

MORE | Replacement installed after college students rip down Frederick Douglass statue

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.”

MORE | Frederick Douglass statue vandalized on anniversary of ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July’ speech

President Trump wasn’t the only national figure to chime in on the vandalism. His son, Donald Trump Jr., wrote wrote: “Disgusting! We should all realize this movement is about promoting Marxism not stopping racism. They’re not going to stop folks.”

Other national leaders commenting on the incident included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Rep. Lee Zeldin, and more.

Local 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.

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 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.”

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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