The thousands of Philadelphians who have taken to the streets for the past eight days to protest police brutality can now celebrate one victory: the removal of the statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo from the city’s downtown.
Rizzo, who was mayor from 1972 to 1980, is known for his violent, aggressive tactics against the majority-Black city’s residents of color. The statue, which went up in 1999, was defaced with spray paint and there was an attempt to set it on fire on Saturday (May 30) during the city’s first night of protests sparked by the police killing of an unarmed Black Minneapolis man, George Floyd.
The day after its defacement, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney vowed to follow through on an earlier promise to remove the statue, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. On Wednesday (June 3), it was taken down, and Kenney said in a statement, “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.”
Rizzo’s is not the only statue coming down as a result of the protests. Reports NPR:
Since the release of a video showing the black man’s arrest in Minneapolis, during which a white officer plants a knee on Floyd’s neck, protesters in several cities and towns below the Mason-Dixon Line have directed their frustration—and sometimes vandalism—toward local Confederate monuments.
Yesterday (June 2), in Birmingham, authorities removed a five-story-tall obelisk called the Confederate Sailors and Soldiers Monument after protestors had attempted to topple it over the weekend. “Allow me to finish the job for you,” Mayor Randall Woodfin reportedly said.
While these three monuments were taken down by municipal governments, others were dealt with by the people. On Saturday, Nashville protestors tore down a statue of Edward Carmack, who The Associated Press describes as “a politician in the early 1900s who wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells.”
In other Southern states, Confederates statues—long subjects of tension—have been vandalized in the recent days of protest: demonstrators wrote “BLM” and “traitors” on a Charleston, South Carolina, confederate statue, while a Confederate monument at the State Capitol in North Carolina was marked with an X, according to MarketWatch.
The Washington Post reports that the Richmond, Virginia statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederacy President Jefferson Davis were defaced. A noose was hung from the Davis statue and protestors wrote “blood on your hands,” “black lives matter” and “no more white supremacy” on Lee’s.
And The Clarion-Ledger reports that a confederate statue on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Mississippi, was defaced by an individual with the words, “spiritual genocide.”
There have been national and global protests since the May 25 killing of Floyd by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.