A photo submitted by a reader shows a group of Philadelphia police officers posed with the statue of Frank Rizzo that has been a focal point of anger and frustration for protesters, including demonstrations this week over the death of George Floyd.

Early Wednesday morning, the statue had been removed by city crews, with Mayor Jim Kenney calling it “a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others.”

But on the day before, images had shown eight officers standing around the statue of the former mayor and police commissioner. The person who submitted the images said they took them Tuesday, but asked not to be named out of fear of repercussions.

In one photo, the officers appeared to be posing for a picture. A ninth officer appeared to be taking the photograph. In the other, the officers seem to be milling around the statue, which is blocked off by barricades.

Philadelphia police did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the photograph Tuesday night.

Philadelphia police officers pose at the Rizzo statue outside the Municipal Services Building on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Reader submitted
Philadelphia police officers pose at the Rizzo statue outside the Municipal Services Building on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Protesters on Saturday attempted to pull down the statue, long seen as a symbol for racism and oppression by Rizzo’s critics. Protesters tried hammering the statue and yanking on it with ropes, but the former mayor’s likeness, bolted to the steps and above a subway concourse, didn’t budge.

Though the statue remained standing, it was defaced by fire and spray paint. Protesters were further enraged Sunday when the statue was among the first items of public property cleaned.

This week was not the beginning of the statue’s controversy. In 2017, as monuments to Confederate leaders came down throughout the South, Philadelphians pushed for the statue’s removal. Kenney had pledged to remove the 2,000-pound, 10-foot-tall bronze.

That wasn’t expected to happen until 2021, during a planned renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza, but after this weekend’s protests, Kenney said the statue would come down within the next month. He made good on that pledge overnight.

Rizzo, who was commissioner from 1968 to 1971, and mayor from 1972 to 1980, remains a controversial figure in the city almost 30 years after his death. He is remembered by some as an advocate for the city’s blue-collar population. Many in Philadelphia’s African American population, though, remember a city official who used brutal force and oppression against the city’s minorities.