Philadelphia’s mayor has promised a review of whether to move the Frank Rizzo statue that has again inspired controversy following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Mayor Jim Kenney will formally ask the Philadelphia Art Commission to consider whether the Municipal Services Building, where the bronze monument to the former mayor and police commissioner has stood for nearly 20 years, is the appropriate place for the statue.
“By law or by custom, it has to be an administrative-led request to the art commission for them to conduct a hearing on the pros or cons of the piece — whether the piece is being planned or being installed or removed,” Kenney said Tuesday. “They actually have to vote on it after a public hearing.”
At the time the statue was placed on the steps of the building across from City Hall, Kenney said, he was against the installation. But he said moving it now involves uncharted territory.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had this before, it’s kind of new ground for everybody,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s done appropriately.”
Several members of City Council are pushing to relocate the statue that they say celebrates a time of racial bigotry and anti-LGBT policies. Like his statue, Rizzo was larger than life during that time in the late ’60s and early ’70s when he led the Philadelphia Police Department and City Hall and was widely criticized as a racist.
Protesters see the monument as a symbol of discrimination and police brutality when city officials have said they are committed to building up trust between the police department and the communities it serves.