Frederick Douglass statue reinstalled for the third time due to vandalism
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s an issue that has occurred far too many times — the vandalism of one of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass statues. But Wednesday, for the third time, the Douglass statue rose again.
News10NBC’s Jenny Ly was at Aqueduct Park downtown where the occasion was marked by calls that "enough is enough".
"Hate has no place here, and every time someone perpetuates an act of hate against our heroic civil rights pioneers, national pioneers in the struggle for human rights, we will stand up," Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D, 131) said.
Standing in solidarity, community leaders used today’s re-erecting of the bronze art piece to reflect on the person it represents.
"Frederick Douglass was a man who could not read, didn’t know who his father was and born a slave but was able to reach the highest upper echelons of government. This is a message that will be able to resonate with so many of our young people in the 21st century," said presumptive Mayor-elect Malik Evans.
These Frederick Douglass statues have been vandalized twice over the past 15 months. The statue at Maplewood Rose garden was removed from its pedestal in July. There was a similar incident in 2018.
Rochester Police say no arrests have been made. Presumptive mayor-elect Malik Evans shared some strong words about the loose vandals.
"You know I’m usually a nice guy, but the folks that knocked these statues down… they’re idiots. They don’t have the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of why the message of Douglass is so powerful and so amplified, particularly to us in the African American community," Evans said. "It’s sacrilegious, it’s hurtful, it’s painful."
The new and third statue is now placed on the banks of the Genesee River. Organizers say this site is significant because it is adjacent to the Talman building where Douglass published The North Star and The Frederick Douglass Newspaper more than 100 years ago.
The statue’s artist, Olivia Kim, says she created the Douglass statue with inspiration from the fearless leader and a touch of humanity.
"Something I’ve learned from this whole experience is that, yes — we are tugging and we are pulling and we all want different things — but there is one thing that is common to all of us… we all have the human heart," Kim said.