A standout high school football player from Kenmore is one of two college students charged Sunday with vandalizing a statue of Frederick Douglass in Rochester, according to Rochester media reports.
Charles J. Milks, 21, who graduated from Kenmore West High School, and John R. Boedicker, 20, of Endicott, Broome County, are charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, in the attempted robbery of the statue, Rochester police told the Democrat and Chronicle.
The young men, who are white, deny racist intent in the vandalism of the statue of Douglass, the noted 19th-century African-American orator and civil rights pioneer. Instead, they say they came up with a dumb idea while they were drunk, according to statements to a local TV station.
Milks and Boedicker were arrested after officers responded at 12:13 a.m. Sunday to 1 Tracy St., Rochester.
The statue is one of 13 erected around the Rochester area this summer to mark the 200th anniversary of Douglass' birth. It is 6-foot, 7-inches tall, made out of cast epoxy resin and weighs 40 pounds, according to the newspaper.
The statues, designed by Rochester artist Olivia Kim, were installed on sites of significance to Douglass' years in Rochester.
Kim told the Democrat and Chronicle she was crushed to learn the entire statue was significantly damaged. Police are holding onto the statue as evidence.
Kim also told the paper that witnesses reported hearing racial slurs shouted at the time of the vandalism.
However, in statements to WHEC, Milks and Boedicker denied racial motivation for the incident and say they were both drunk at the time.
"We had no idea who the statue even was; we were just two idiots walking home from the bar that had a bad idea," Milks said in his statement. "I’m sorry for my actions and want to apologize, and I’ve already reached [out] to the original artist of the sculptor to talk."
The two young men attend St. John Fisher College, where they both have played on the football team, according to an online roster. The college's president issued a statement saying the reported vandalism doesn't reflect the college's values and vowing to pursue appropriate punishment through internal campus procedures.
Milks was a second-team member of The Buffalo News' All-WNY high school football team as a linebacker for Kenmore West in 2015. He also was a member of the school's wrestling team.