PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia announced Friday that the statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo will be moved to a different location.
People who want to see it come down allege Rizzo treated the African-American community unfairly, even brutally, at times.
“Earlier this year we initiated a call for ideas on the future of the Rizzo statue. 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,” said Michael DiBerardinis, the city’s managing director.
Councilwoman Helen Gym started the calls for the statue to come down from the Thomas Paine Plaza in Center City over the summer. The statue was vandalized and protests were held for the city to remove the statue.
“I was always for relocation,” said Gym. “I think it’s fine to have statues, I think it is different when it is in the center of the city.”
The city did not announce, though, where the statue will be moved to.
The city received nearly 4,000 submissions about what should be done with the Rizzo statue.
“The response was very helpful for us to identify a host of potential new locations. 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,” said Kelly Lee, the city’s chief cultural officer. “Our goal moving forward is to seamlessly relocate the statue to a new, more appropriate public location in the city.”
Philadelphia will conduct feasibility studies on potential new locations. Once a new site has been determined, the city will submit a proposal to the Art Commission that requests removal and relocation approval.
Officials believe it will take at least six months to prepare a complete proposal.
The decision disappoints the Rizzo family, according to the former mayor’s son, Frank, who was fielding many phone calls.
“I don’t think this drastic a step was necessary,” he said, also stating the family had gotten no warning about the decision. “My mom’s 101 years old and this isn’t how she should hear about it.”
Councilman Mark Squilla also disagrees with Mayor Jim Kenney’s decision.
“Once you start moving things around, you’re always going to get somebody that doesn’t like something, and then do we have to consider removing everything around there,” he said.
Tom Hine was an architecture critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer and is quite familiar with the statue.
“I actually said good things about the statue, but I said this was the wrong place for it to be,” said Hine.
Philadelphia has long tried to reconcile the complicated legacy of Rizzo, who served as mayor from 1972 to 1980 and who died of a heart attack in 1991. His friends, family and fans remember him as a devoted public servant unafraid to speak his mind. His detractors saw his police force as corrupt and brutal and said Rizzo alienated minorities both as police commissioner and mayor.
The statue has been standing in front of the Municipal Services building since 1999.