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Frederick Douglass statue in Maplewood Park toppled


Rochester police are investigating damage done to a statue of Frederick Douglass in Maplewood Park.

It happened over the weekend, and police said that the statue was torn off its base, and left about 50 feet from its pedestal. The statue was found over the fence lining the Genesee River gorge.

Police say in addition to the damage dome to the bottom of the statue, one of the fingers on the left hand of the statue was damaged. The statue has been removed for repairs.

The incident happened on the same weekend that marked the 168th anniversary of the delivery of the famed abolitionist's speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" The speech, which Douglass gave on July 5, 1882 at Corinthian Hall in Rochester,  asks all Americans to consider the country's long history of denying equal rights to Black people.

Some local and national organizations marked the weekend's Fourth of July festivities with a tribute to the speech.
The statue of Frederick Douglass was torn from its base. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SPECTRUM NEWS
  • The statue of Frederick Douglass was torn from its base.
Among the local events this weekend was one on Saturday organized by the ROC Freedom Riders, a group of cyclists honoring the struggle for Black Americans’ freedom. Their event included a stop where Douglass had delivered his speech about the July 4 holiday.

The statue that was damaged this weekend is one of 13 Douglass statues that were placed around Rochester in 2018 in honor of his 200th birthday.

In that first year, two St. John Fisher students were charged with damaging one of the other statues, at Tracy and Alexander Streets.

The Maplewood Park location’s significance is tied to Kelsey’s Landing at that site, a departure point for slaves seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Douglass lived in Rochester for years and is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery.