US black activist statue toppled in New York state

A statue of the 19th Century US black activist Frederick Douglass has been toppled in New York state.

It appears to have been vandalised on 5 July – the anniversary of a famous speech the former slave gave in 1852.

In it he said Independence Day celebrations were a sham in a nation that still enslaved its black citizens.

His statue, in the city of Rochester, could have been targeted in retaliation for attacks on monuments linked to slavery, activists said.

The leader of the group that erected the statue, Carvi Eison, said a new statue of Douglass would take its place.

No-one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack on the statue.

A statue of Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in Rochester, New York, on the anniversary of his famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." The statue was found in a gorge about 50 feet away, with damage to the base and a finger.

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In recent weeks, statues of Confederate leaders and the explorer Christopher Columbus have been torn down in the US, as pressure grows on authorities to remove monuments connected to slavery and colonialism.

The movement has been sparked by the death in police custody of African American George Floyd.

His death in Minneapolis in May has led to protests in the US and internationally against police brutality and racial inequality.

US President Donald Trump last week ordered the creation of a “National Garden of American Heroes” to defend what he called “our great national story” against those who vandalised statues.

His executive order gave a new task force 60 days to present plans, including a location, for the garden.

Mr Trump insisted the new statues must be lifelike, “not abstract or modernist”.

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