PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WHTM) — The statue of former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo was removed from the steps of the Municipal Services Building in Center City early Wednesday morning, according to our ABC affiliate station WPVI.
The 10-foot-tall bronze statue was damaged on Saturday when crowds tried to bring it down, and eventually set it on fire.
WPVI says the statue was erected in 1998 and groups calling for action on social injustice have been seeking its removal for years.
Rizzo was mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980. Rizzo was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities.
The statue was set to be moved next year; however, on Sunday Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said removal would be accelerated and completed within a month.
Kenney said on Twitter, “The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long. It is finally gone.”
Mayor Kenney issued the following statement just before 6 a.m.:
“When we first announced our decision to move the statue, we chose to do so in a way that was cost-effective, by linking it to the pending renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza,” said the Mayor. “That choice was a mistake-we prioritized efficiency over full recognition of what this statue represented to Black Philadelphians and members of other marginalized communities. The continued display of the statue has understandably enraged and hurt many Philadelphians, including those protesting the heinous murders of George Floyd and too many others. I have seen and heard their anguish. This statue now no longer stands in front of a building that serves all Philadelphians.”Mayor Jim Kenney
The Mayor continued, “The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others. The treatment of these communities under Mr. Rizzo’s leadership was among the worst periods in Philadelphia’s history. The battle for equal rights and justice is still being fought decades later, and our city is still working to erase that legacy. We now need to work for true equity for all Philadelphia residents, and toward healing our communities. The removal of this statue today is but a small step in that process.”