A replacement statue of Frederick Douglass was installed Thursday after two college students are accused of ripping the former statue from its base at Alexander and Tracy streets in Rochester last weekend.
John Boedicker and Charles Milks have been suspended from St. John Fisher for the vandalism. They are also charged with criminal mischief.
Cell phone video shows the two men carrying the statue down the street after removing it early Sunday morning.
A witness told News 8 the men were yelling racial slurs. However, Boedicker denied that, saying it was a drunken mistake, not racially motivated.
Both men say they have reached out to the sculptor to apologize.
Speaking Thursday at a ceremony for the new statue, organizers tried to pull positivity from the negative.
“We’re saddened, we’re hurt, we’re angry, I personally was shocked when I learned of this vandalism,” said Bleu Cease, one of the organizers of the Douglass statue project. “But some others were much less surprised. Some feared something like this might happen.”
But Cease says the discussions brought about by the vandalism are very important for the community to have. He adds that Thursday’s installation is a way to move pass the act of destruction.
“One goes down, ten come back,” added Carvin Eison, organizer. “The fact that everyone is here right now shows that Rochester, New York and our community is not going to tolerate the desecration of one of our greatest citizens… We cannot let that happen.”