A statue of US abolitionist Frederick Douglass has been ripped from its base in Rochester, New York state, on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in that city in 1852.
Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom.
The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50ft from its pedestal, police said. There was damage to the base and a finger.
On July 5 1852 in Rochester, Douglass gave the speech, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” in which he called the celebration of liberty a sham in a nation that enslaves and oppresses its black citizens.
Douglass said that to a slave, American Independence Day is “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim”.
Carvin Eison, a leader of the project that brought the Douglass statue to the park, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that another statue will take its place because the damage to the figure is too significant.
He told WROC: “Is this some type of retaliation because of the national fever over confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing – it’s beyond disappointing.”