Philadelphia Removed the Rizzo Statue

Some good local news, and a legitimate finally. The Philadelphia Inquirer:

On Wednesday morning, Philadelphia woke up to a profound change in the landscape of Center City. Overnight, workers had removed the statue of Frank Rizzo, the former police commissioner, then mayor, whose law-and-order tactics had come for many to symbolize racist and brutal policing in the city.

“The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in an early-morning tweet. “It is finally gone.”

That statue was Philly’s shameful equivalent of a Confederate Civil War monument. You look at Rizzo’s record and it’s hard to believe it was true, let alone that we had a statue dedicated to him until last night:

A careful look at his legacy, however, shows that federal officials, civil rights attorneys, community residents and politicians all voiced consistently similar concern in the 1960s and 1970s that Rizzo had allowed the police department to operate with little accountability, leading to an environment where police shot civilians at a rate of one per week between 1970 and 1978.

He was like a proto-Trump, including a tendency to simultaneously brag and whine in the third-person:

“All Frank Rizzo has done all his life is protect people from criminals at great personal risk and discomfort,” Rizzo once said, slipping into the third person.

He rose through the ranks, to deputy commissioner in 1963, and police commissioner in 1967. Rizzo summed up his philosophy in blunt terms. “The way to treat criminals is spacco il capo,” he said as top cop, using the Italian for “break their heads.” He boasted he had “the toughest cops in the world,” and that his Police Department was strong enough to invade Cuba.


During his bid for re-election, Rizzo proclaimed he would “make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.” He was re-elected by a margin of 182,730 votes over independent Charles W. Bowser and Republican Thomas M. Foglietta.

In 1980, after Rizzo was out of office, came this encounter in which he tried to get a TV news crew to fight him, one day after he broke a camera from the same crew, on camera, while Philly cops stood behind him and laughed. Just watch.

The fact that this man was Philadelphia’s police chief and two-term mayor is emblematic of the racism pervading our nation, particularly in policing.

The removal of this statue is proof that protesting works.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020