Former Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo’s legacy sounds very different depending on whom you ask. Some have characterized the former mayor as a man who governed with racism and bigotry. Others view him as one who promoted law and order in the city’s streets.
On Friday, Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration announced that the Rizzo statue will be moved from its current location outside the Municipal Services Building.
A new location has not been specified.
That decision belongs to the Philadelphia Arts Commission. The difficulty of the decision is perhaps fitting, considering the complicated legacy Rizzo has left behind.
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The 10-foot-tall statue has stood in its current spot since 1998. Another former Philadelphia mayor, Ed Rendell, has characterized the decision to put the statue there as a mistake.
“In retrospect, to put Frank Rizzo in front of the Municipal Services Building,” Rendell said, “to single him out from other mayors such as Joe Clark or Richardson Dilworth, was probably a mistake.”
Following the racial violence in Charlottesville in August, Philadelphia voices began to debate whether Rizzo’s statue was a symbol that should stand in Philadelphia.
Protests came from groups that said Rizzo aimed his tough policies at African Americans and other people of color. Others, like State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, contended that that Rizzo did “evolve significantly” as mayor, boosting the number of blacks employed by the city and providing funding for the African American Museum.
There is no shortage of memorable soundbites from the former mayor. During his campaign for mayor in 1987, which he narrowly lost to W. Wilson Goode, Rizzo said: “When I was mayor, this city worked.” We want to know what you think about Rizzo’s legacy.