After Vandalism, Controversy, Philly to Move Frank Rizzo Statue

After months of controversy and several protests, the city announced that the Frank Rizzo statue will be moved from its current location across from Philadelphia’s City Hall.

City officials made the unexpected announcement Friday that the decision was reached after thousands of individual recommendations from the public and careful consideration.

There was no exact date for the 10-foot monument's removal from its perch on Thomas Paine Plaza in front of the Municipal Services Building. The full-body, hand-waving Rizzo looks south, several yards from the busy intersection of JFK Boulevard and North 15th Street.

City Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis said in a statement that "potential new locations" have been identified, but he did not name them.

“Earlier this year we initiated a call for ideas on the future of the Rizzo statue,” DiBerardinis said. “We carefully reviewed and considered everyone’s viewpoints and we have come to the decision that the Rizzo statue will be moved to a different location. This decision comes at a time when we have begun the preliminary stages of planning to re-envision Paine Plaza as a new type of inviting and engaging public space.”

Rizzo served as mayor from 1972 to 1980. His controversial legacy stretches further back to his rise through the ranks of the police department to eventually become commissioner.

He became the ire of local activists and protesters amid the national debate about statues honoring leaders of the South during the Civil War, particularly monuments displayed prominently on public property in southern cities.

Councilwoman Helen Gym first stirred the anti-Rizzo statue fervor when she tweeted in August that it should be removed.

On Friday, she pledged to help in the ongoing debate that to decide where the new location should be.

Over the summer, the statue was vandalized at least twice. The statue was egged and a man was arrested for spray-painting "black power" on it.

After asking the public to weigh in on if the statue should be moved, almost 4,000 proposals were received.


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"The response was very helpful for us to identify a host of potential new locations," the city's chief cultural officer, Kelly Lee, said. "We plan to do our due diligence on these locations before announcing the new site, but the input helped shaped some of the options we’ll review."

The city estimates it will take six months to prepare a completed proposal to the Art Commission.

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