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Vandals tear down Statue of Frederick Douglass

Whether or not I agree with the President of the United States sentiments, the fact is that tearing down the statue of Frederick Douglass is yet another act of vandalism that is shaming the world.

The statue of the renowned Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was torn from its base in a park in Rochester, N.Y., and then dumped some 50 feet away, where it was discovered near a river gorge.

The statue was found on Sunday, July 5, the 168th anniversary of one of Douglass’s most famous speeches denouncing slavery, and the damage was done amid a heated international debate over tributes to historical figures.

The statue was erected in Maplewood Park in 2018, one of 13 of the famed orator placed around Rochester that year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Douglass, who escaped slavery in 1838 and went on to become one of its most well-known opponents, lived in Rochester for more than two decades. He published his abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, there, and he was buried in the city after his death in 1895.

Since the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis on 25 May prompted nationwide protests against police brutality and structural racism, statues the explorer Christopher Columbus, of Confederate leaders and others with outdated views on race have been targeted for protest, vandalism and removal.

Most of the monuments in question were in the United States, but others were in the United Kingdom, Belgium, New Zealand, India and South Africa. Some had been the subject of lengthy, years-long efforts to remove them, sometimes involving legislation and/or court proceedings. In some cases the removal was legal and official; in others laws prohibiting the removal of monuments were deliberately broken.

In the United Kingdom, removal efforts focused on memorials to figures involved in the Atlantic slave trade, British colonialism, and eugenics. In Belgium, sculptures of King Leopold II were targeted due to his prominent role in the colonization of the Congo. In New Zealand, a statue of a British military officer was removed, and in India another was relocated. In South Africa, a statue of the last president of the Orange Free State was taken down.

Tthe vandalism and destruction of monuments and memorials has been compared to the period of iconoclasm in the former Soviet Union, or the Cultural Revolution in Communist China.

If we remove the evidence of history, we are removing the opportunity to learn from it.

This vandalism must stop.

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