By John N. Mitchell
PHILADELPHIA — The massive statue of former Police Commissioner and Mayor Frank Rizzo will not move until the first quarter of 2022 — not 2021, as originally reported.
“There was a mistake in communications where ‘calendar year 2022’ was mistakenly presented as ‘fiscal year 2022.’ Unfortunately, that error was not caught before it was shared with the public back in October,” said Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the Kenney administration, in an email.
“To be clear,” Dunn continued, “the timeline for construction to start at Paine Plaza — and any movement of the statue — is the first quarter of calendar year 2022.”
This news, originally reported by Billy Penn, comes as the statue was vandalized twice in the last few days.
On Monday, the word “FASCIST” was reported to have been scrawled in white on Rizzo’s jacket. A sticker from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s charitable organization, AO1 Foundation, also was reportedly found on Rizzo’s outstretched hand.
Wentz’ organization released a statement saying it had nothing to do with the vandalism and that it did not “condone any acts of vandalism.”
On Tuesday, a mentally disabled person reportedly threw noodles at the statue. The person was apprehended, but will not be charged with a crime.
Vandals have defaced the statue in the past, notably in 2017, when on separate occasions, people threw eggs at it and spray-painted it.
A Rizzo mural in South Philadelphia also has been defaced on several occasions.
In 2017, Mayor Jim Kenney announced plans to move the statue and the city began conducting studies on potential new locations for the statue.
Kenney said at the time that the statue was considered “offensive to people,” particularly to African Americans and other people of color who lived in the city during Rizzo’s reign as police commissioner and mayor.
Rizzo, who served as police commissioner from 1967 to 1971, he infamously ordered raids on Black Panther locations throughout the city after the shooting death of a police officer in August 1970. During the raids, officers handcuffed and strip-searched members of the Black Panther Party; photos of the raids were shown around the world.
And in 1978, during Rizzo’s second term as mayor, city police were involved in a shoot-out with MOVE that left Officer James Ramp dead. Nine MOVE members were jailed in connection with the shooting. Some died in prison, others have only recently been released.
Around that time, the brutal beating of MOVE member Delbert Africa by four Philadelphia police officers also appeared in newspapers and newscasts across the country.
John N. Mitchell is a columnist and reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.