President Donald Trump slammed the people responsible for ripping a statue of Frederick Douglass from its base in upstate New York, writing in a tweet on Monday: "This shows that these anarchists have no bounds!"
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for vandalizing the statue of Douglass, an escaped slave who became a leader of the abolitionist movement, and a powerful orator who delivered a famous speech on 5 July, 1852 in which he asked, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”
Mr Trump tweeted a link from the conservative website Breitbart along with his post about the Douglass statue.
That article said there was no reported motive yet in the statue toppling, and also noted a previous incident in which two teenagers vandalised the monument in 2018. The teens said at the time that they did not have any political motive.
The Douglass statue was torn from its base in Maplewood Park in Rochester on Sunday and moved about 50 feet away from its pedestal, according to local news outlets that covered the incident. While a finger on the statue was damaged to the point where it could not be repaired, according to officials, there were no graffiti markings or other extensive damage to the Douglass monument.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)July 6, 2020
Douglass delivered his famous keynote address during an Independence Day celebration in Corinthian Hall in Rochester, questioning the day of celebrations in a nation with slaves.
“Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?” he said.
“Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?”
He added: “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.”
The statue of Douglass at Maplewood Park marked the site he used with other abolitionists like Harriet Tubman to help free slaves along the Underground Railroad.
Officials who helped bring the statue of Douglass to Maplewood Park said they would work to install a new statue quickly.
Carvin Eisen, one of the officials behind the project, told CBS Rochester affiliate WROC-TV: “Is this some type of retaliation because of the national fever over Confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing, it's beyond disappointing.”
He added: “I feel (we should) put a monument back here immediately so whoever did this knows that we are not going to be deterred from what our objective is, and our objective is to continually celebrate Frederick Douglass.”