Man Now In Custody For Allegedly Spray-Painting 'Black Power' On Philly's Frank Rizzo Statue

The suspect's name won't be released until formal charges are filed.

Photo credit:Photo: Tirdad Derakhshani

| August 18 2017,

8:42 pm

Controversial statues are having the worst week ever!

Most famously, Durham protesters went the vigilante route to take down a Confederate soldier statue. Now, there’s some rumbling in Philly, and this time the city’s former mayor is the target.

Philly.com reports that the words “black power” were spray-painted over a statue of Philadelphia’s former Mayor Frank Rizzo late Thursday.

A 40-year-old male suspect attached to the incident was arrested and taken into custody on Friday. The suspect’s name will not be released by police until formal charges are filed. It’s expected that he’ll be charged criminal mischief, institutional vandalism and possession of an instrument of crime.

The statue has been the target of previous attacks including an egging, which has resulted in police presence around the statue. However, the defacing incident occurred during a period in which the statue was unguarded.

In addition to the “black power” visual statement, the words “The Black community should be their own Police” were written on the steps of Municipal Services Building, where the statue stands. A video of the incident was posted via Twitter:

Prior to being elected mayor, Rizzo served as the city’s police commissioner. 

According to ABC Philadephia, his reputation within the city is “complicated.”

Though Rizzo had a loyal following within some pockets of the black Philly community, others felt he was much too harsh against black Philly residents when enforcing the law. There’s some history to account for as well, since he was commissioner in 1970 during a Black Panther Party police raid in the city.

Recently thousands of people rallied in support of Charlottesville rally victims. An outgrowth of this was the #TeardownRizzoStatue campaign. 

"The statue is going to come down one way or another," said Asa Khalif, a member Black Lives Matter Movement Philadelphia chapter. "It stands for generational hurt, oppression, injustice, homophobia, anti-blackness."

Councilwoman Helen Gym had previously tweeted in support of the statue's removal: