PHILADELPHIA - The controversial statue of former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo has been removed from the plaza in front of the Municipal Services Building. Mural Arts also says a mural of Rizzo in South Philadelphia will be replaced.
Crews worked during the early morning hours Wednesday to uproot the polarizing statue. The 10-foot tall structure was lifted with a crane and hauled away in the back of a truck. The mayor's office says it will be placed in secure storage pending a further decision.
"The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long. It is finally gone." Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted on Wednesday.
Kenney's office released a statement Wednesday and said the decision to move the statue was first motivated by cost-efficiency in coordination with upcoming renovations to Thomas Paine Plaza.
"That choice was a mistake," Kenney said. "We prioritized efficiency over full recognition of what this statue represented to Black Philadelphians and members of other marginalized communities."
The Rizzo statue stood nearby City Hall for nearly two decades. Kenney said he was never a fan of the statue and does not believe any mayor should have a monument erected in their honor.
"In hindsight, I wish we had [removed the statue] earlier, but we've done it now and hopefully it's representative of where we're going to go."
The often-vandalized statue of Rizzo was the target of demonstrators during Saturday's chaotic events. Protesters tried to topple the statue but it would not budge. A small fire was lit underneath the defaced statue.
Kenney said the removal of the statue is not a win for the protesters, but a win for the whole city.
"I think it's a victory for all of us," Kenny said. "We're moving on from that era, and I hope that everybody will embrace the vision of last night's reconciliation."
FOX 29's Jeff Cole spoke with Rizzo's son, Frank Rizzo Jr., following the removal of the statue.
"It would have been nice if someone would have said, 'look, we believe it would be in the best interest of Philadelphia.' That’s what my father would have wanted," Rizzo Jr. said.
Rizzo Jr. also hinted at a grudge between the current mayor and his father.
"Kenney never liked my father and my father never liked Kenney. Now Kenney’s in the spot where he can remove statues and he’s doing it..." he said.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Monday denounced the statue and called it a "monument to racist, unaccountable governance."
"The Frank Rizzo statue should never have been erected, and should have been removed long ago," Krasner tweeted Monday morning," Krasner said in a tweet.
In addition to the removal of the statue, a wall-size mural of Rizzo at 9th and Montrose in South Philly was splashed with paint. Mural Arts released a statement Wednesday saying in part: "We do not believe the maintenance and repair of the Rizzo mural is consistent with our mission. We think it is time for the mural to be decommissioned, and would support a unifying piece of public art in its place."
Officials say the Italian Market, the property owners, and Mural Arts have all agreed to replace the mural with one that "better represents the fabric" of the street.
Rizzo, who died in 1991 at the age of 70, forged a volatile relationship with the African-American community in Philadelphia. He served as police commissioner from 1967-1971 and was a two-term mayor from 1972-1980.
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