June 3 (UPI) -- Authorities in Philadelphia on Wednesday removed a statue of former Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo, days after demonstrators tried to topple the monument.
Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, a death that has spurred hundreds of peaceful and violent rallies nationwide over the past week, damaged and attempted to set fire to the 10-foot-tall bronze statue last weekend.
Rizzo served two terms as Philadelphia mayor in the 1970s after spending three years as police commissioner. He was praised by many for his firm stance on crime, but critics see him as a national symbol of police violence and prejudice against African Americans.
Rizzo was mayor of Philadelphia between 1972 and 1980 but, despite efforts to change it, was barred by law from a third consecutive term. He later earned scorn from fellow Democrats when he switched to the Republican Party in 1986 and won the GOP nomination for a new term as mayor in 1991, but died of a heart attack at age 70 before the election.
The statue, erected in 1998, was removed with a crane and lowered onto a flatbed truck as National Guardsmen stood nearby to enforce an overnight curfew.
The statue, which has been vandalized over the years, was already set to be moved next year. It will now be placed in storage until officials determine what to do with it.
"The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community," Kenney said. "The treatment of these communities under Mr. Rizzo's leadership was among the worst periods in Philadelphia's history."