Last week, City Councilwoman Helen Gym called for the removal of the statue of Frank Rizzo striding down the steps in front of the Municipal Services Building. How that would work, she wasn’t quite sure.
The original contract between the city and the committee that paid for the monument, obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News, spells it out.
The city owns the statue outright. As such, it has the right to relocate, remove, or destroy it. But first, it must provide written notice to the organization that provided it, in this case a citizens’ committee chaired by Frank Rizzo Jr. And unless “the city determines that the immediate destruction of the work is necessary to protect the health, safety or welfare of the public,” the city must give the provider of the statue the chance to remove it first. If the city were to destroy the statue, it would have to give the provider six months’ advance notice.
However, the city intends to adhere to a policy it developed in 2012 on deaccessioning public art. On Tuesday, Mayor Kenney said the city Art Commission would need to conduct hearings in advance of any decision and that it would be up to the commission to vote on the fate of the statue. Any such hearing likely would not take place until October, commission chairman Alan Greenberger said.
Rizzo Jr. said he would advocate for the statue to remain in place.
“I’m talking to the lawyers to see what exactly could be done,” he said. “I don’t know if anything can be done. We’re going to do all we can within the law to keep that statue where it is.”