One of 13 statues of Frederick Douglass erected to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the historic icon’s birth was damaged during an attempted robbery early Sunday morning, Rochester police said.
John R. Boedicker, 20, of Endicott, and Charles J. Milks, 21, of Kenmore, have both been charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, Rochester Police Investigator Jackie Shuman said.
Officers responded to reports at 12:13 a.m. at 1 Tracy St., site of a seminary where Douglass enrolled his eldest daughter, Rosetta, only to withdraw her after finding she was being placed in segregated classes.
The six-foot seven-inch statues by Rochester artist Olivia Kim are made out of cast epoxy resin and weigh 40 pounds and were placed on sites of significance to Douglass’ years in Rochester. It was installed earlier this year.
Those statues were a part of a project called “Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass,” and in a statement issued Sunday, the project’s leaders Carvin Eison, Bleu Cease and Christine Christopher expressed their disappointment in the vandalism.
“People around the area are devastated to learn the news of the attempted theft and severe damage to the statue of Frederick Douglass last night,” the three said in the statement. “We wish that we could write this off as an immature act of vandalism, but sadly, the witness to the theft reports that hateful racial epithets were used by those responsible. We find that incredibly sad.”
The trio urged community members to see the vandalism as an opportunity to teach others about Douglass’ legacy rather than be angry about the damage. They also said the statue will be replaced as quickly as possible.
“On behalf of the entire Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Committee, we want to say thanks to the witness who quickly called the police,” they said in the statement. “Thanks to the Rochester Police Department for their quick response, and to all those who have reached out with words of support.”