in

Frederick Douglass descendants address finger-pointing after statue vandalism

CLOSE

Frederick Douglass, who lived in Rochester after fleeing slavery, delivered his famous “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” on July 5, 1852.

USA TODAY

To be clear, Rochester police have not made any arrests yet in connection with a statue of Frederick Douglass in Maplewood Park being ripped from its base and dumped about 50 feet away near the Genesee River gorge. As far as we know, they don’t even have a suspect.

But the incident has led to all sorts of finger-pointing and theory-floating on social media about whodunit and why. It hasn’t helped that it occurred on the weekend of the 168th anniversary of Douglass delivering his “What, to a Slave, is the Fourth of July?” speech in Rochester, and that the statue stood near where the famed abolitionist and Harriet Tubman shuttled slaves to safety along the Underground Railroad.

Sunday on Twitter, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tried to link the vandalism here to a nationwide anti-statue movement that largely has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments in public spaces in southern states but also prompted calls for tearing down monuments to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Christopher Columbus elsewhere.

More: Frederick Douglass statue vandalized on anniversary of his famous Fourth of July Rochester speech

“Disgusting! We should all realize that this movement is about promoting Marxism not stopping racism,” Trump Jr. tweeted.

Monday morning, President Trump weighed in. In a tweet that included a link to a story by far-right media outlet Breitbart News, he wrote, “This shows that these anarchists have no bounds!”

Among those who clapped back at the president was actress Mia Farrow, who pointed out that in December 2018, two white, intoxicated St. John Fisher College students were arrested and later pleaded guilty to vandalizing another Douglass statue near Alexander Street and East Avenue.

Cornell William Brooks, a lawyer and former NAACP president, said he believes that the vandalism was an act of revenge carried out by white supremacists angered at the removal of Confederate monuments. 

Others who have registered opinions include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, CBS News journalist Wesley Lowery and Bravo TV personality Padma Lakshmi.

Among the more measured voices: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain and co-host of ABC’s The View. She wrote: “Frederick Douglass — one of the most celebrated and influential American statesman in our history … Vandalizing his statue on the anniversary of his Rochester speech is so abhorrent it’s hard to fathom …”

Statement from Douglass descendants

On Monday afternoon, the direct descendants of Douglass addressed the plethora of blame in a statement. Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Douglass and the co-founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, said, “There has been a broad array of comments responding to this act of vandalism. … They could all be right or, perhaps, as was the previous case of Douglass statue vandalism in December of 2018, two young men had too much to drink during a night out and felt the need to test their strength on an object they believed to be inanimate. While the Douglass statues are indeed inanimate, they are a critical reminder of a legacy that is very much alive today. In fact, the reactions from elected officials, laden with emotion and evocative language, are proof of Douglass’s relevance and the need for forthright discussion about dismantling policies and systems of racism that are still toxic 125 years after his death.”

The statement also quoted John Boedicker, one of the men who damaged one of the 13 Douglass 200th-anniversary statues in 2018, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and participated in a restorative justice program to learn the legacy of Douglass. 

“It is truly aggravating for me and saddens my heart,” Boedicker said, “especially in times like this where it looks like positive change is right around the corner, given the progress of Black Lives Matter across the world. I don’t want to be silent on this because Frederick’s message became a part of me after I did what I did. Now, more than ever, I would like to convey that.”

Morris concluded: “John Boedicker is testimony that every American can use his or her voice at this moment to stand up for what’s right.”

More from Twitter:

Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwoodYour subscription makes work like this possible.

Read or Share this story: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/07/06/frederick-douglass-statue-rochester-ny-damaged-lots-finger-pointing-teories/5383234002/



Source link

Teen reveals she tested POSITIVE for COVID-19 the day after getting a nose job

Danai Gurira reveals she is 'daring to hope for racial justice'

Back to Top
Send this to a friend