Recap: Rizzo statue removed, Gov. Wolf marches with protesters
In the predawn hours Wednesday, the city unceremoniously removed the controversial statue of former Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo. Some TV news stations were on the scene to capture the massive artwork being yanked from its base in front of the Municipal Services Building.
“The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others. The treatment of these communities under Mr. Rizzo’s leadership was among the worst periods in Philadelphia’s history,” Mayor Jim Kenney said afterward.
In Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf joined hundreds of demonstrators as they marched through the capital city to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “I’m proud to be here to show my support,” the governor told the crowd. “You’re doing the right thing.”
Read more of our coverage from today’s events here:
Pa. National Guard troops being housed at West Chester University
West Chester University is housing Pennsylvania National Guard troops who are serving in Philadelphia, a university vice president said in an email Wednesday night to the institution’s employees.
John Villella, vice president for university affairs and chief of staff, said the guard units are being housed for approximately seven days and are providing all their own needs, including food and sleeping cots.
Villella said the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency contacted the State System of Higher Education earlier this week and requested temporary housing for the troops. Villella said the university was unoccupied and under social-distancing protocols, so it agreed to the request.
Complaints to the police department about the armed group, who were out well past curfew, went unheeded. The group claimed to be protecting property. The mayor has referred to them as vigilantes.
Fisher told Pastor Noah Hepler that he agreed with the protesters’ anger over Floyd’s killing but declined to take a knee. He asked if Hepler would lead them in prayer.
A few officers, protestors, and Hepler prayed together for a few moments. Hepler, of the Atonement Lutheran Church on nearby Montgomery Street, said some of his parishioners are police officers, and he wished they would consider the impact that bending a knee could have.
“I understand exercising your rights, but this is a crisis situation,” he said. “It would diffuse a lot of the tension. As someone who also deals with symbols, it’s an important one.”
The protest march from City Hall up Broad Street to Temple University has ended peacefully and organizers have encouraged everyone to get home safe.
Sixx King, a Philadelphia film director, said after the march that he was calling for “immediate police reform,” including holding officers accountable for crimes, having them wear body cameras that record at all times and “immediately” upload footages, and paying for legal settlements stemming from police brutality with officers’ pension funds.
He praised young people for organizing and coming out to march and said older organizers can help them.
And the fight is far from over — from protests to the ballot box, he said.
“Marches are good, they are great, but if you want long-standing results, we have to take our voices to the ballots,” he said.
It took Davian Ingram two days to make the cardboard sign he carried during a protest Wednesday.
On it is the name of every black person killed by police in the last five years.
“I feel an obligation,” Ingram, 25, said of the memorial he brought from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to City Hall to Temple University during an hours-long march, “to show their names.”
The process of adding names to the sign was so emotionally training he had to take breaks while making it, he said.
He fears the sign is still not done.
This protester told me he wrote every black person killed by police over the last five years on this sign. It took him two days to write. He had to take breaks. “I feel an obligation to show their names.” pic.twitter.com/RdP6dUir5G
Philly man charged in dynamite scheme to blow up ATMs
A Philadelphia man was charged Wednesday in a scheme to sell dynamite he advertised as being ideal for blowing up ATMs, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced.
Talib Crump used social media to advertise his dynamite, saying the explosives were “better than bullets,” Shapiro said.
Crump included detailed information on how to use the dynamite. His online sales pitch got picked up by state law enforcement agents, who posed as buyers and arrested Crump, 25, on Tuesday.
Crump is accused of having used dynamite to open an ATM and steal more than $8,500 Monday night, Shapiro said. Information provided by the state did not say where Crump is alleged to have destroyed the ATM. There have been reports of ATM thefts throughout the city, officials said, though it was not clear how many Crump was involved in. He had 11 sticks of dynamite with him when he was arrested, enough to blow open four ATMs, Shapiro said.
Crump is charged with 48 counts, including multiple counts of the felonies possession of weapons of mass destruction, risking catastrophe, and criminal use of a communication facility, and multiple counts of misdemeanors including possession of an instrument of crime, possession of offensive weapons, transporting an explosive device by vehicle, making terroristic threats, and failure to prevent catastrophe.
Obama urges mayors to review use-of-force policies with community, commit to reform
Speaking over Zoom to a virtual townhall about race and police reform, former President Barack Obama urged mayors across the United States to review their use-of-force policies and commit to reform with their communities.
“The reform has to take place in more than 19,000 American municipalities, more than 18,000 local enforcement jurisdictions,” Obama said in a 10-minute opening address.
The former president praised the efforts of Americans who have been marching this week against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd, urging to look to the next step.
“At some point, protests start to dwindle in size,” Obama said. “And it’s very important for us to take the momentum that has been created as a society, as a country, and say, ‘let’s use this to finally have an impact.”
Earlier this week, around a dozen Philadelphia elected officials called for a detailed plan for reforming the city’s policing after officers rained tear gas over a large group of protesters attempting to flee a demonstration on I-676, while a SWAT officer ripped down protesters’ face masks and pepper-sprayed them.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in an email sent to her 6,500-member department that all uses of force must now be reported via police radio, in addition to a written report after the fact, “to ensure we can properly defend our actions when we are ultimately challenged.”
Philly protesters say they won’t let commitment wane
As marchers dispersed down Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards City Hall, some protestors were in high spirits but aware more work needs to be done in their fight against police brutality and systemic racism.
“The protests that happened before this kind of died out, but the rage still stayed inside everyone,” Jasmine Harvey, 27, said in reference to previous protests like in Ferguson, Mo.
“This time we’re trying to become a unit and use our voices and the white voices as our allies.”
Some in the crowd, which was racially mixed, acknowledged that members of the white community have a responsibility to be more active allies in the fight against systemic racism in America.
“We need to do more than be listening to podcasts educating ourselves,” Hannah Darrah, 29, who is white, said of being an ally to the black community. “It’s really the structure of America that needs to be dismantled and reconstructed for black lives.”
How Mayor Jim Kenney abruptly ended years of delays to remove the Frank Rizzo statue
For nearly three years, Mayor Jim Kenney had used a talk-fast, move-slow approach to removing the divisive Frank Rizzo statue.
The statue long presented a political minefield for Kenney, who ran for mayor with a coalition that included support from from white voters in his native South Philadelphia who adore Rizzo, from members of the African American political powerhouse Northwest Coalition, and from progressives who saw the statue as a monument to racism.
But not until widespread unrest over the homicide of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer engulfed Philadelphia, and then in Wednesday’s early morning darkness, did a crane hoist the waving, 10-foot, 2,000-pound, bronze Rizzo off its pedestal outside the Municipal Services Building on Kenney’s orders.
The removal came after a years of delays that led activists to question whether Kenney, who in his early political career espoused tough-on-crime positions that would have sat well with Rizzo, was truly invested in removing the statue.
2 protests now in Center City, with large groups of law enforcement close by
As demonstrators marched and knelt on Philadelphia’s streets Wednesday protesting police brutality, large groups of law enforcement remained close by.
At the Philadelphia Art Museum, at least 10 police cars and an armored vehicle rolled through the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as hundreds gathered at the museum’s steps.
Cop cars w/ blinking lights line the street leading up to the Art Museum where protesters are and behind it. At the end of the line of cop cars is this military-esque truck that showed up on 52nd St last Sunday pic.twitter.com/tfyvl6JSEe
Tito Cobb and his family stood under the hot June sun in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum Wednesday for their second day of protesting police brutality.
Cobb, 45, who is black and his family — his wife and seven kids, ages 4 to 22, all dressed in red to have a family uniform — are back again for another day. “We got children that’s growing up in this country and they be asking questions like, dad, what’s going on?”
He said, when asked why he brought his family.
“For so long, Americans haven’t heard our voices. They haven’t heard our anguish,” he said. “As much as I don’t agree with the young people looting and the rioting, that’s their way of being heard. They’re forcing the whole world to listen.”
“Everyone take a sip of water together,” one person shouted as the hundreds chugged in unison. The group went silent about 4:15 p.m. and raised their fists for nine minutes, the stretch of time George Floyd spent beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
As temperatures crept past 80 degrees in the hot sun, protesters on Philadelphia’s streets Wednesday urged each other to take care of one another as they prepared for what is expected to be a “long” march.
A New York businessman hired a plane to fly over Philadelphia exhorting peace yesterday
After a chaotic weekend of protests, looting, and a police crackdown on marchers decrying racism and brutality, on Tuesday a plane circled the skies over Philadelphia, pulling a banner that read “BLESS THE PEACEMAKERS 4 THEY SHALL INHERIT EARTH."
The banner, a shortened form of one of the blessings from the Gospel of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, was paid for by a New York City businessman who had similar banners flow over New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, his assistant said in a phone call.
“He just wanted to do something, based on everything that’s going on in the world today,” said Emily Emeneker, the man’s assistant, who declined to name him and did not respond to a request for a further statement on her employer’s feelings on the unrest that has roiled cities around the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
It’s “in many senses, a standard practice,” said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch — a matter of calls between the city’s Office of Emergency Management, the Philadelphia Police Department, SEPTA transit police and its operations staff.
Willie Brown, president of Transport Workers Union Local 234, said the union would not transport anyone who was arrested. TWU Local 234 represents thousands of SEPTA employees, including bus operators.
“It’s a fine line on this," Brown said. "We support the police. We don’t have a problem with police. But we understand the actions of these young people.”
Krasner: Rizzo is Philadelphia’s ‘Confederate general’
District Attorney Larry Krasner on Tuesday called former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo the city’s “Confederate general,” and said that Rizzo’s statue outside the Municipal Services Building “stood for racism and unaccountable police brutality.”
“Well, he is looming no more,” Krasner said the day after Rizzo’s statue was abruptly removed from the plaza at the center of the city. “And that is a good thing.”
Krasner spoke during a Zoom press conference that also featured comments from the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, senior pastor at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, and Pastor Melanie DeBouse, a co-chair with Tyler of POWER, an interfaith organization.
Both faith leaders said it was past time for Rizzo’s statue to go, with Tyler thanking a host of advocacy groups that have long been calling for its removal.
“I hope that final taking down of the statue never to be erected again says that we have heard your voices and enough is enough,” DeBouse said.
Krasner, Tyler, and DeBouse said they planned to host a demonstration Thursday at noon in front of the Octavius Catto statue outside City Hall, calling on residents to kneel for around nine minutes to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Protesters begin fifth day of marching through Philadelphia against police brutality
Multiple groups of demonstrators in Philadelphia Wednesday began a fifth day of marching through the city’s streets, protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.
At City Hall, a crowd of several hundred peaceful protestors erupted in cheers at City Hall as speakers announced three officers involved in the police killing of George Floyd were charged with second degree murder.
The crowd is now moving northbound on Broad St yelling “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” in unison as they raise their hands in protest against police brutality and Floyd’s killing. The crowd is festive and mostly young, clapping along as cars honk along in solidarity along the protest route.
Some are marching with their children hoping to impart lessons to their children.
“I want [my daughter] to come out and see a peaceful protest,” Cheryl Hill, 47, of Center City said. “I don’t want her to become the next Breonna Taylor,” referencing the 26 year old Louisville woman shot and killed in her own home by police in March.
Two protest groups are converging on Broad St and Parrish St.
Several hundred protestors are laying down in silence for 9 minutes as a symbol of how long a Minnesota police officer knelt on George Floyd’s kneck before he died. pic.twitter.com/X7nsEDCCvM
Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf marches with George Floyd demonstrators in Harrisburg
Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday joined hundreds of demonstrators as they marched through Harrisburg to protest the police killing of George Floyd, a black man from Minnesota.
Wolf spoke briefly to the crowd, telling them, “We need to stop racism now.” As he delivered his remarks, some in the crowd voiced anger, with one person yelling back, “What are you doing?”
Wednesday’s demonstration was organized by All You Can, Inc. and Be a Man, Inc., a local role-model group focused on “mental, physical, and social wellbeing.” It is one of many that have taken place across Pennsylvania and the nation over the past week in the wake of Floyd’s death.
4 Minneapolis cops now charged in George Floyd’s death
Prosecutors are charging a Minneapolis police officer accused of pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck with second-degree murder, and for the first time will level charges against three other officers at the scene, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Widely seen bystander video showing Floyd’s May 25 death has sparked sometimes violent protests nationwide and around the world. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers involved were also fired but were not immediately charged.
The Philadelphia Police Department has made 716 arrests since widespread protests and looting erupted in the city on Saturday following protests against police brutality.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw warned that number will rise because “numerous persons” still await processing.
The arrests include 12 for assaults on police, three for firearms violations, seven for theft, and one for vandalism. Outlaw also said there were 490 arrests for offenses such as curfew violations and failing to disperse, and one arrest for “propulsion of missile.”
At least 25 police officers have been injured since Saturday, and at least one remains hospitalized, Outlaw added.
John Schmidt, the acting special agent in charge of the Philadelphia division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, said the agency is currently chasing down leads related to the explosions, but declined to offer specifics due to ongoing investigations.
If members of the community have any information about the ATM explosions, they are encouraged to call 1-888-ATF-TIPS.
Pizzeria owner where Rizzo mural stands: ‘This is not a mural that is kept up because the Italian Market Association wants it here’
David Neukirch, the owner of the pizzeria on the Ninth Street property, said Wednesday afternoon he expects the Frank Rizzo mural in the Italian Market to be removed and replaced imminently, depending on the weather.
“This is not a mural that is kept up because the Italian Market Association wants it here,” Neukrich said, adding Mural Arts Philadelphia “put up this mural in this location years ago and it became controversial.”
“It’s a very tough position I’ve been put in,” he said. “I can’t just go out and paint over it or take it down.”
Mural Arts Philadelphia said in a statement it will “cease all involvement” with the mural, noting it has “become a target for defacement amidst this national chapter of pain, grief, and anger over the recent death of George Floyd and the systemic racism plaguing our country.
“We do not believe the mural can play a role in healing and supporting dialogue, but rather it has become a painful reminder for many of the former Mayor’s legacy, and only adds to the pain and anger,” the organization said. “At this time, Mural Arts will no longer be involved in the repair or restoration of the mural.”
“I do appreciate the officers who were kneeling and praying with people. I think that’s a good sign,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “It’s a good image for the police to have something in common with the people that they’re sworn to protect and serve.”
“I think that if that trend continues, that goes a long way in helping us end this,” Kenney added.
Kenney: Neighborhoods to see increased National Guard presence ‘over next few days’
Mayor Jim Kenney said Philadelphia isn’t ready for the National Guard to leave the city, and residents should expect to see an increased presence in neighborhoods “over the next few days.”
“I want us to be where we don’t need additional support, but let me be clear — we are not there yet,” Kenney told reporters during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “They’ll leave when when we no longer need them.”
“They’re hoping to protect business and commercial corridors, which many members of our business community have requested,” Kenney added. “This frees up the police department resources to support demonstrations, respond to 911 calls, and other critical responses.”
Mural Arts Philadelphia will ‘cease all involvement’ with mural of Frank Rizzo
Mural Arts Philadelphia will “cease all involvement” with the mural of former mayor Frank Rizzo in the Italian Market, the organization said in statement responding to the removal of the Rizzo statue near City Hall. The mural has again “become a target for defacement amidst this national chapter of pain, grief, and anger over the recent death of George Floyd and the systemic racism plaguing our country,” the statement noted.
It continued: “We do not believe the mural can play a role in healing and supporting dialogue, but rather it has become a painful reminder for many of the former Mayor’s legacy, and only adds to the pain and anger.”
Mural Arts’ statement said that the maintenance and repair of the Rizzo mural is not consistent with the organization’s mission.
“We think it is time for the mural to be decommissioned, and would support a unifying piece of public art in its place,” it said, though that would be contingent on the property owner’s approval. “At this time, Mural Arts will no longer be involved in the repair or restoration of the mural.”
National Guard, Philly police guard West Philly shopping center
Pennsylvania National Guard and Philadelphia police officers are currently guarding the Park West Town Center on 52nd Street and Jefferson Street Wednesday. They appear to be only allowing workers on the property.
The West Philadelphia shopping center, which contains a Lowe’s and a ShopRite, were looted over the past few days during protests sparked by George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here’s what the shopping center looked like Sunday evening, after looters were spotted carrying armfuls of clothing and pushing carts full of merchandise.
Philadelphia will be under curfew for the fifth straight night
Philadelphia will be under curfew again Wednesday night.
The curfew begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. During that time, people may leave their homes only to go to work at essential businesses or to seek medical attention or police assistance. It is the the fifth straight night the city will be under curfew.
Unlike previous night, SEPTA did not shut down bus and train service Tuesday night.
Secretary of Defense opposes sending military forces into cities experiencing looting
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he disagreed with President Trump’s call to invoke the Insurrection Act to send military troops into cities that have experienced looting and violence in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper said during a press briefing Wednesday at the Pentagon. “We are not in one of those situations now.”
NEW: Defense Sec. Esper: "I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most ... dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.” pic.twitter.com/GcMBjs73rI
Esper said he believes the National Guard is better suited for providing domestic support to civil authorities.
During an address from the White House Monday night, Trump threatened to deploy the military to enforce law and order if the nation’s governors didn’t take control of their cities in the wake of riots and looting.
“I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said.
Frank Rizzo mural in Italian Market remains defaced, largely ignored
Many in the Italian Market awoke Wednesday to the news of the Frank Rizzo statue’s removal from Center City and then walked by a defaced Frank Rizzo mural in the heart of their neighborhood.
But most passersby gave the large smear of brown paint, the latest insistence of vandalism which occurred late last week, no more than a glance.
Many small shops at the 9th and Christian corner were boarded up, still shut down amid the pandemic. The ones that were open carried on as normal. “Happy Groundhog Day,” one woman yelled to another as she opened her doors around 9 a.m.
At tables and benches in the parking lot in front of the giant painting, a few people ate breakfast sandwiches and chatted with each other quietly. Several people, some in masks, stopped to snap selfies and take pictures.
Kathleen Vaughan, 73, and her husband, Carl Garner, 70, sit in front of the artwork every morning and drink coffee. They said it’s become a part of their pandemic routine.
Vaughan said her brother was once a bodyguard of the former mayor and the couple, who are black, don’t have strong feelings one way or another about the man. But they said they felt the city was right to remove the statue in Center City.
“It was the center of a lot of conflict,” Vaughan said.
As for the vandalism of the mural, “it’s not as bad as the last time,” she said with a shrug. She said she thinks the mural, which is on private property, should stay.
Susan DiPronio, 70, was less subdued. She ran into her friend Lisa Krieger, 52, and gestured to the mural in excitement.
“I say, ‘Yay’ [to the smear on the painting] and I want them to stop cleaning it off,” said DiPronio, who is white. “Nobody ever asked us if it was OK to put that asshole up on the wall.”
She was glad the city finally took down the statue hours earlier.
“That was a great thing,” she said, beaming. “It shows you protests really do work.”
Eating breakfast at a table across the lot, Noreen Cheleden, 72, said she thought the smearing of paint was “sad” and disagreed with the moving of the statue.
“He was the police commissioner. He was the mayor. He did a lot of good,” said Cheleden, who is white. “You may not agree with everything he did, but who agrees with everybody anyway?”
Trump blames protests on ‘philosophy’ of Democratic leaders
Following a evening of largely peaceful protests in Philadelphia and elsewhere, President Trump once again attacked Democratic leaders in cities and states where demonstrators have filled the streets in recent days.
“You notice that all of these places that have problems are not run by Republicans, they’re run by liberal Democrats, so there is something to that philosophy,” Trump told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on his radio show Wednesday morning. The president didn’t elaborate further.
Trump called the murder of George Floyd a “terrible thing,” but said protests following his death have been full of “a lot of bad people," citing anarchists and looters. When asked how he would attack the problem of low support for law enforcement among minorities, Trump pointed to his own poll numbers.
Trump’s interview comes nearly a full day after former Vice President Joe Biden called for unity in a speech from City Hall in Philadelphia.
“The country is crying out for leadership, leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together, leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for a long time,” Biden said on Tuesday.
Sculptor of Rizzo statue: ‘the mayor did the right thing’
The artist who two decades ago sculpted the statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo said hours after the monument was removed from its perch that “the mayor did the right thing.”
Zenos Frudakis, a Glenside-based sculptor, said he was “relieved” Wednesday morning to learn city officials used a crane to remove the 2,000-pound bronze statue from in front of the Municipal Services Building. He said it became “a lightning rod” and, for many, a “manifestation of oppression.”
“I’m a human being before I’m an artist. The human being part of me was saying ‘I don’t want people hurt.’ It’s not about my sculpture, my ego,” he said. “I don’t want the sculpture damaged, either. To take it out safely and quietly was the right thing to do.”
Frudakis said he was concerned earlier this week to see images of protesters tugging on the statue, which sat precariously above a subway concourse. He worried it would fall and hurt someone.
Backing the removal is something of an evolution for Frudakis, who over the last several years called for new statues or art to be erected next to the one of Rizzo to provide context about his legacy.
But on Tuesday, the morning his “first major sculpture” was pulled out of the ground, he felt differently.
“We want to change the way things are socially, and it’s got to start at the top in the government,” he said. “I see my sculpture as a small part of this.”
Frank Rizzo mural in Italian Market remains defaced
A mural of former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo remains defaced in the Italian Market the morning after his statue was removed from the Municipal Services building.
Kenney didn’t mention the mural during a brief press conference with reporters Wednesday morning, where he said the statue of Rizzo represented a time when "races were divided” and “oppression was accepted.”
‘We don’t need them’: Kenney hopes the National Guard leaves Philly today
After a day of peaceful protests, Mayor Jim Kenney said he hopes the National Guard leaves Philadelphia today.
“I hope they leave today. We don’t need them,” Kenney told reporters Wednesday morning.
Kenney said the National Guard was called in a “security and guarding situation” in order to free up the city’s police officers to keep the peace during protests in the city.
“We have to get back to business. We have to get back to normal commerce. We have to get back to fighting homicide and shootings,” Kenney said. “We have a lot of work to do ahead of us. And hopefully this is the start.”
Kenney: Frank Rizzo statue represented a time when ‘races were divided’ and ‘oppression was accepted’
Mayor Jim Kenney said the statue of former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo was removed early Wednesday morning because it symbolized a time when "races were divided” and “oppression was accepted.”
“I think that the protests over the last week — and hopefully we’re winding down — have shown us the anger and the distress of people of color in this country,” Kenney told reporters Wednesday morning. “And that statue was representative of that era. It had to go away in order for us to understand where we need to be going forward.”
“It has nothing to do with the primary,” Kenney said. “Honestly I believe this is the beginning of the healing process of our city ... we have a long way to go.” pic.twitter.com/wN6Q2LG6JD
Kenney said he recognized that some people view Rizzo as a hero. But “there’s a large number of people who lived in the city at the time [who go into the Services Building] ... and to go in there under his guise was offensive to them.”
“We’re here to ‘protect and serve,’ not to dominate,” Kenney said. “I think that’s where we need to go from here.”
Frank Rizzo statue removed, Kenney calls it ‘a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality’
In the predawn hours Wednesday, the city unceremoniously removed the controversial statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo, who was known for his aggressive tactics policing the black and gay communities of Philadelphia.
The city said that the statue is being placed in secure storage by the Department of Public Property, “until a plan is developed to donate, relocate, or otherwise dispose of it.” There is no timeline for this plan, but “if and when” it is developed, it “will be presented to the Philadelphia Art Commission for approval.”
Shortly before 5 a.m., Pennsylvania National Guard troops stood quietly behind metal barricades as TV cameras were lined up on the other side. The only people around were the homeless still sleeping next to the plaza where Rizzo once waved to his beloved city.
Mayor Jim Kenney has for the last three years pledged to move the Rizzo statue to another location. Since 2017, calls to remove the statue have intensified, kicked off by a national reckoning over monuments to Confederate figures. In the fall, his administration announced the statue would be moved sometime in 2021 in tandem with the reconstruction of Thomas Paine Plaza.
In a statement released on Wednesday morning, Kenney said that the plan to remove the statue along with the 2021 renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza was a mistake and that “we prioritized efficiency over full recognition of what this statue represented to Black Philadelphians and members of other marginalized communities.”
“The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others. The treatment of these communities under Mr. Rizzo’s leadership was among the worst periods in Philadelphia’s history. The battle for equal rights and justice is still being fought decades later, and our city is still working to erase that legacy. We now need to work for true equity for all Philadelphia residents, and toward healing our communities. The removal of this statue today is but a small step in that process,” Kenney said in the statement.
The Philadelphia Police Department has made 703 arrests since widespread protests and looting erupted in the city on Saturday.
The department reported late Tuesday night on its Twitter account that the arrests include 11 for assaults on police, three for firearms violations, 192 for looting and burglary, six for theft, one for rioting, and one for vandalism.
The police also said there were 488 arrests for offenses such as curfew violations and failing to disperse, and one arrest for “propulsion of missile.”
Tensions eased Tuesday in Philly after days of chaos
The city on Tuesday was a political battleground in the presidential campaign, while more than a thousand demonstrators gathered, marched, and danced peacefully in Philadelphia for several hours to protest the killing of George Floyd.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a televised speech to the nation at City Hall in the morning, then won the postponed Pennsylvania primary later in the evening.
In a stark contrast to the chaos of the previous three days, protesters chanted and sang and even dribbled basketballs around City Hall, in Old City, in West Philadelphia, and near a police station in Fishtown, where an ad hoc group armed with baseball bats had appeared the day before. Some protesters and police shook hands and knelt together.
Protests on the Main Line, in Cherry Hill, and at the Shore also were peaceful, as was a march on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. At least one person was arrested late Tuesday afternoon in Philadelphia, and police reported 703 arrests since widespread protests and looting erupted in the city on Saturday.
— Anthony R. Wood, Erin McCarthy and Aubrey Whelan
Video shows officer tackle marcher during arrest in Center City
Among the arrests Tuesday was one that resulted from a confrontation between a bike officer and a woman at the protest, and ended with the officer tackling the woman.
The incident happened during a march past 10th and Market Streets late Tuesday afternoon. The woman tapped the officer’s bike with her right foot as they passed, according to video provided by a person at the march.
The officer responded by grabbing the woman’s hoodie and confronting her about touching his bike. She responded with profanity and the officer tackled her. Other police made a ring around the arrest with their bicycles.
Police did not respond to questions about what the woman was charged with, or the tackle the officer involved used to take her into custody. The officer was not identified