PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Earlier this week, the Frank Rizzo Statue was twice the target of vandalism. Now, vandals have struck the mural depicting the former mayor in Philadelphia’s Italian Market.
Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, as a group of residents guarded the Frank Rizzo statue in Center City against potential vandals, spray painters – yet again – targeted his mural at 9th Street and Montrose Avenue in South Philadelphia.
One person has been taken into custody in connection with the vandalism, according to Philadelphia Police.
“You say you don’t like it – that’s fine. This is ridiculous,” said Patricia Ciliberti, a lifelong resident of the Italian Market.
The vandals spray-painted the words “Kill Killer Cops” on the mural and threw white paint at it.
They also scrawled “RIP David” on the mural, which appears to be a reference to David Jones, the black man fatally shot in the back by a Philadelphia police officer while fleeing a pedestrian stop on June 8.
This isn’t the first time this mural has been defaced. There was another incident earlier this year in May. But this time, police on patrol reportedly saw the masked vandals in action, chased them down, and took one man into custody.
After deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend over the removal of Confederate monuments, there have been renewed calls in Philadelphia to take down tributes to Rizzo, a controversial former mayor.
“Rizzo represents racism to a lot of people in Philly,” said Eliza Becker.
But Ciliberti believes Rizzo’s image should remain.
“What does Frank Rizzo have to do with the Civil War?” she asked. “I come from a police family. My father was shot in the line of duty. Frank Rizzo was there with my mother every step of the way. He’s a friend of the family. We knew the man personally, and we do not feel as he was racist.”
Meantime, in Center City overnight, Ryan Tygh stood watch over the Rizzo statue, which has been vandalized several times this week alone.
“Respect – it’s not so much for the statue or what it stands for. It’s not a political stance. It’s just – you’re teaching a generation that if you don’t agree with something, it’s okay to go demolish it or vandalize it or knock it down,” he said.
At least one city leader is pushing for the removal of the Rizzo statue outside of the Municipal Services building. Those discussions are expected to begin in September.