Statue of divisive Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo is removed

Workers have removed the statue of divisive former Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo

PHILADELPHIA — A crane lifted a long-polarizing statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo from its home outside a public building in the wee hours of Wednesday, whisking it away after recent protests against police brutality hastened its removal.

As National Guard troops deployed for the protests watched, the crane lifted the 10-foot (3-meter) bronze statue and workers shook it from its stand outside the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall.

It was loaded onto the back of a truck and was put in storage until a permanent plan for its fate can be determined, officials said.

Rizzo, who died in 1991, cast a long shadow in Philadelphia. He was police commissioner from 1968-71 and served as mayor from 1972-80. His reputation for being tough on crime was coupled with complaints of racial discrimination.

Calls to remove the statue, a frequent target of vandals, had grown louder in recent years. Kenney had earlier pledged to move it in 2021.

Mayor Jim Kenney had said Monday that he “never liked” the statue and announced a plan to move it this month after it was defaced during the recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd during an encounter with police in Minnesota.

“I can’t wait to see it go away,” Kenney said.

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