Philadelphia to relocate Frank Rizzo statue sooner

Protesters attempt to take down the Frank Rizzo statue in front of the Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Protesters attempt to take down the Frank Rizzo statue in front of the Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A bronze statue of the late Frank Rizzo — former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner — may be moved from its Center City perch sooner than expected.

The statue was targeted during Saturday’s protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A group of demonstrators covered the statue with graffiti, attempted to pull it down with ropes and set a small fire at its pedestal.

Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press conference on Sunday that the statue will be moved “hopefully by another month or so.”

Those who have called for the statue’s removal cite Rizzo’s record on police brutality, especially in communities of color. In recent years, the statue has been a frequent target of vandalism.

After several delays, the statue was set to remain on the steps of the Municipal Services Building until at least July 2021, when it would be moved. Kenney said Sunday that the city’s original intent was to move the statue, which is bolted to the stone steps, as part of construction work already planned for the plaza.

“I never liked that statue,” Kenney said. “I don’t think it was deserved in the first place.”

Kenney’s comments came as the mayor announced new restrictions aimed at quelling vandalism and looting that have followed Saturday’s protests against police violence.

All Center City streets are closed to vehicle traffic until further notice. The city has also requested support from the National Guard, as additional protests are expected Sunday.

A mandatory citywide curfew will be in effect from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday. Only those with essential duties will be permitted outdoors.

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