Frank Rizzo was a truly awful human being. As police commissioner and later mayor of Philadelphia through the ’70s, he spent his time in power terrorizing black and LGBTQ communities. Despite this information being common knowledge, a statue erected in his honor stood in front of city hall for more than two decades.
Everyone can kiss that tribute to this racist homophobe goodbye as the city finally removed the statue on Tuesday, The Hill reports. Initially, Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) said that the statue would be taken down at some point within the next few months. Philadelphia is one of the many American cities currently seeing protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Rizzo’s statue has become a symbol during these protests, representing the city’s history of mistreating the black community.
“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,” Kenney said in a statement announcing the statue’s removal.
From The Hill:
As police commissioner, Rizzo led crackdowns against the Black Panther Party and black liberation groups. He once said his response to anti-police protestors would “make Attila the Hun look like a f——-.” He summed up his theory of treating criminals as “spacco il cappo,” or breaking the head.
The Philadelphia Inquirer won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for documenting patterns of police brutality under Rizzo’s leadership.
As mayor, Rizzo opposed new public housing projects in majority-white neighborhoods, and he opposed desegregating the city’s schools.
He switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1986. He ran for mayor a third time, winning the Republican nomination in 1991. Rizzo died of a heart attack before Election Day.
So yeah, dude was kind of fucking trash. The most perplexing part of this story is that the statue isn’t some monument from a bygone era. The statue was erected in 1999, just a little over 20 years ago. I was 7 years old, watching Dexter’s Lab when Philly decided to pay tribute to one of its most infamous racists. In 2017, The Root released a video explaining the history of the statue and the city’s relationship with it.
Understandably, the statue had been vandalized throughout the years as folks haven’t forgotten the legacy of racism and homophobia he left during his lifetime. As nationwide efforts to remove Confederate monuments have grown in recent years, so to have calls in Philadelphia for Rizzo’s statue to be removed.