New York, NY – Over the weekend, two monuments were damaged that are garnering national attention. The first was a statue to Christopher Columbus, who has been blamed for genocide and exploitation amid the recent riots across the country. The second, was a statue to abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The monument to Christopher Columbus was located in Connecticut, and was beheaded in the town of Waterbury. The mayor took a hardline stance against the violence. He said that the town stands against racism, but that these actions “will not be tolerated.”
In Rochester, the Frederick Douglass statue was found around 50 feet from it’s pedestal. It had been damaged and it is said that it is not able to be repaired. The AP article as linked quoted someone as saying the damage was retaliatory, but there is no evidence of this.
Rochester has been home to various Black Lives Matter demonstrations and protests in recent weeks. Anti-July 4 events took place in the city on July 4th as well. It’s not clear from the initial reports when the Douglass statue was damaged or who damaged it.
That did not stop others from jumping into the conversation and suggesting it was retaliatory as the AP suggested. Across social media, there were immediate cries that as Americans, we are better than this. Here’s an example from a local NY state senator.
I’m saddened by the vandalism of the Frederick Douglass statue in Maplewood Park. We’re better than this, and the actions of few do not represent the great pride the citizens of Rochester feel about our hometown abolitionist hero. #roc
— Jeremy Cooney (@JeremyCooneyROC) July 6, 2020
Where was the outrage with other monuments across America? I have commented multiple times as we have been dealing with the recent violence across our country. Our history shows both good and bad. We put monuments up to recognize the right things. Douglass was a good thing, he worked hard against slavery, and it was a great thing to memorialize.
So was Columbus’ discovery; it was a great moment. So was the leadership of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Yet, we are tearing down these statues across our country. Was Douglass perfect? No, but we recognize achievement, not flaws. At least we used to.
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