‘Some Questionable Forces’: Frederick Douglass Statue Toppled from Base In Rochester, New York; Police Investigating

Rochester, New York, police are investigating after a statue of Frederick Douglass in Aqueduct Park was toppled. Police confirmed on Wednesday that the statue was toppled off its concrete base. The statue was hauled away by city workers after it was reported by a passerby on Wednesday, and it will be replaced.

Authorities say they do not know how or why the statue was toppled, but a report has been filed an police are looking into what happened. On Thursday, a construction worker working in front of the park told WHEC that he thinks the statue fell because its concrete base was crumbling.

Carvin Eison, project director of Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass, said, “I accept that.” But he added, “It could’ve been that. But I don’t think that there were gale force winds around 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. And I don’t think the concrete is rotting. It’s not rotting on any of the others.”

Rochester police are investigating after a statue of Frederick Douglass in Aqueduct Park was toppled. (Photo: Carvin Eison/ Twitter)

He continued, “I saw some things when I was here for three hours yesterday. Some very questionable forces. I’m not saying it was them.”

In 2018, Eison helped organize the installation of 13 Douglass statues around Rochester to commemorate the 200th birthday of the abolitionist.

Douglass lived and worked in Rochester for 25 years. “The fact of his presence will always be a part of Rochester, and now a set of life-sized statues will bring his physical representation to contemporary city streets,” a statement on the project’s website says. Douglass is also buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester.

The statues have been damaged two other times since they were installed in 2018. In December 0f 2018, two St. John Fisher College students vandalized the statue and knocked it from its pedestal on Tracey Street. They later leaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief.

In 2020, a statue at Maplewood Garden was torn from its base and thrown over a fence next to the Genesee River gorge on the anniversary of Douglass’ speech “What to the slave if the fourth of July?” It was reinstalled two weeks later.

Eison told WHAM the statue will also be replaced after the most recent occurrence.

“This is important to this community,” he said. “Frederick Douglass is as cogent, is as important to this community and to our country today as he ever was when he was living, and this is our responsibility, to reflect those values and to take those values forward.”

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