Rizzo statue to move in 2 to 3 years, Kenney says

The statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo drips with egg  in this August 2017 file photo. Last summer, the statue was increasingly the target of vandals and protesters who see it as a symbol of racism. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo drips with egg in this August 2017 file photo. Last summer, the statue was increasingly the target of vandals and protesters who see it as a symbol of racism. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has confirmed that the city won’t be moving the controversial statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo for another 2 to 3 years.

After months of protests calling on the city to remove the statue and gathering more than 4,000 public comments on what the city should do with it, the Kenney administration announced last fall that it would move the Rizzo statue.

“It will move, we don’t know where yet. South Philly seems to be a logical location,” Kenney said Thursday. “We’ll see what happens. But with all the things I’m dealing with — from poverty to opioid abuse to schools to education issues — this is the last on my list.”

Kenney wants the move to coincide with a renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza, just across from City Hall where the statue stands in front of the Municipal Services Building.

“There’s no sense in incurring additional costs that have to be incurred when the plaza’s torn up, so why would I do it before then?” he said.

Critics of the statue’s placement on public property — including Black Lives Matter activists — have cheered the move. The statue has been a polarizing public artwork for years, with critics calling for its removal, given Rizzo’s record on police brutality, especially in communities of color.

But plans for a move don’t sit well with Frank Rizzo Jr., a former city councilman and son of the late mayor.

“There’s going to be a fight,” he predicted Thursday. “As a matter of fact, my mother … said she would be speaking out, but that was before her death [last month]. So I’m going to be the one speaking out.”

Rizzo speculated the move would come after Kenney’s re-election bid in 2019. Kenney denied that the election was a factor in his decision.

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