Two white male students of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York were apprehended on Sunday for damaging and trying to steal a statue of Frederick Douglass.
John Boedicker, 20, and Charlie Milks, 21 were arraigned in Rochester City Court on Monday, December 17 and were charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief after ripping the statue from its base on the city’s East End, News 10 reported.
Bystanders who witnessed the incident said they saw Boedicker and Milks yelling racial slurs while attempting to steal the statue. The 20-year-old denied spewing racial language at the time of the incident and called the situation “an intoxicated mistake.”
Rochester Police said the boys could be facing more charges other than criminal mischief such as vandalism and possibly hate charges.
Boedicker claimed he and Milks contacted the sculptor to apologize and help with the repairs. The cost of damages to the statue listed in the formal complaint is roughly $250, but that number is just a placeholder for a more accurate estimation of damages.
St. John Fisher College released a statement on Sunday condemning the students’ actions.
“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. … 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.”
Both Boedicker and Milks who plays for the college’s football team were both suspended from St. John Fisher on Monday.
The Frederick Douglass was 1 of 13 statues created for the city’s bicentennial celebration of Douglass’ birth. The statues were in honor of his work as an iconic abolitionist.
One member of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemorating Committee Michele Daniels told the news station that he doesn’t care about the monetary aspect, but wants the boys to realize their wrongdoings.
“I hope they are made to volunteer, to create, to recreate that statue,” said Daniels. “I want them to stand around and help the people who love and care about Frederick Douglass and his legacy.”
Mayor Lovely Warren denounced the college students’ behavior called the situation a “sad event that demonstrates remarkable disrespect for the citizens of Rochester, especially those who have worked so hard to celebrate the legacy of Douglass during the 200th anniversary of his birth.”
Both Boedicker and Milks are due back in court January 2019.