Two St. John Fisher College students have been accused of vandalizing a statue of Frederick Douglass.
20-year-old John Boedicker of Endicott and 21-year-old Charles Milks of Kenmore were charged with criminal mischief in the 4th degree. In court Monday, not guilty pleas were entered for both men.
The two are accused of ripping the statue from its base at Tracy St. and Alexander, on the city’s East End, around 12:30 Sunday morning. Witnesses say they were yelling racial slurs at the time, but Boedicker denies that and says their actions were “an intoxicated mistake.” He says he and Milks have already reached out to the sculptor to apologize and will help with repairs.
The statue was one of 13 Frederick Douglass statues created especially for the city’s bicentennial celebration of Douglass’ birth. They were placed around the city in places that were central to Douglass’ life and his work as an abolitionist.
Carven Eison, project director, vowed to replace the statue and says the vandalism and theft are opportunities to spread awareness about Douglass and address ways to end racism.
St. John Fisher College released this statement from President Rooney also released a statement Sunday confirmed the two are students from St. John Fisher College:
The College learned earlier this evening through various media reports that Fisher students were allegedly involved in vandalism of a statue honoring the legacy of Frederick Douglass in the City of Rochester. This behavior goes against who we are and who we strive to be.
We share the outrage that members of the Rochester community feel about this incident. St. John Fisher College expects all members of our campus community to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that is consistent with the values articulated in our mission statement and in the Fisher Creed. Those who engage in behavior that may violate these standards are held accountable through our appropriate internal processes.
I want to assure our campus community and the community at large that respect, open-mindedness, and integrity are of the utmost importance to the College, and we pledge to continue to demonstrate our commitment to these values to all members of the greater Rochester community and our own campus community.
Given this reported incident, we recognize the need to redouble our efforts to promote these values and expectations and continue to educate our campus community around issues of diversity and race.
St. John Fisher College has always cooperated fully with members of the law enforcement community, and will do so in addressing this matter
To learn more about the city of Rochester’s bicentennial celebration of Frederick Douglass, click here.