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Pennsylvania National Action Network Calls on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Support Removal of Frank Rizzo Monument

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On the day Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced his endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic presidential nomination it was reported Kenney has no plan to remove the controversial Frank Rizzo monument from Thomas Paine Plaza. Rizzo is a former mayor and police commissioner who was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for a pattern of police brutality that “shocks the conscience.”

Sen. Warren supports removal of Confederate monuments. The family-financed Rizzo monument memorializes a racist who trampled on civil rights, urged supporters to “vote white” and traumatized the African American community.

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Pennsylvania National Action Network Calls on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Support Removal of Frank Rizzo Monument

  1. 1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Deacon Matthew Smith, Sr. November 1, 2019 Email: msmithsr1943@gmail.com Phone: 267-973-5555 Pennsylvania National Action Network Calls on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Support Removal of Frank Rizzo Monument from Thomas Paine Plaza Philadelphia, PA -- On the day Mayor Jim Kenney announced his endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was reported Kenney has no plan to remove the controversial Frank Rizzo monument from Thomas Paine Plaza. The statue was installed on City property under the cover of darkness hours before it was unveiled on January 1, 1999. Then-mayor Ed Rendell now says it was a mistake to install the monument in front of the Municipal Services Building. Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network President Matthew Smith said, “I lived under Frank Rizzo’s reign of terror. During his tenure as police commissioner and mayor, the African American community experienced trauma at the hands of the police. The monument memorializes a bully who presided over a police department that engaged in a pattern of brutal behavior that “shocks the conscience.” That was the conclusion of the United States Department of Justice which in 1979 filed a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia. The Justice Department charged Mayor Rizzo and 18 high-ranking police officers either committed or condoned “widespread and severe” acts of police brutality. It was the first time a city was sued by the Justice Department.” Paula Peebles, founder and chair of Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network (PA NAN), said, “The public was never asked whether the family-financed vanity project was an appropriate monument for Philadelphia. In August 2017, the public was finally given an opportunity to weigh in. The City received nearly 4,000 submissions. PA NAN hand delivered more than 300 letters to City Hall. We called on Mayor Kenney to remove the Frank Rizzo monument to police brutality and racial oppression.” On November 13, 2017, then-Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis announced “we have come to the decision that the Rizzo statue will be moved to a different location.”
  2. 2. Peebles added, “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Criminal Reform Justice Plan acknowledges that “many people of color, including Native Americans, disproportionately experience trauma at the hands of law enforcement, sometimes with life-altering consequences.” The Rizzo statute is a daily trigger of the trauma inflicted on African Americans. The Pennsylvania State Chapter of National Action Network calls on Sen. Warren to support our years’ long campaign to remove the Frank Rizzo monument from the gateway to municipal services.” Faye Anderson, director of All That Philly Jazz, said “Frank Rizzo was notorious for his harassment of jazz musicians and club owners. The monument was paid for by the Rizzo family foundation and unveiled after the Mummers parade, an event known for its racially charged antics. Philadelphians were never asked whether the Rizzo monument was an appropriate representation of the City.” Anderson added, “Representation matters. Sen. Warren supports removing Confederate monuments. In saying the Rizzo monument will stay put because it will allegedly cost $100,000 to remove it from Thomas Paine Plaza, Mayor Kenney puts a price tag on hate. At the same time, the City spends taxpayers’ money to repair and secure the frequently vandalized statue. The Rizzo monument was installed in hours. It can be uninstalled in hours.” About Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network: The Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network is a nonprofit organization that advocates for issues of concern to the African American community. The issues include protecting voting rights; protesting the excessive use of deadly force by the police; promoting policies and initiatives to reduce gun violence and racial profiling; ending “stop-and-frisk” policing and the school- to-prison pipeline; advocating for equal quality education for all students; and fighting against housing discrimination and gentrification. PA NAN fosters civic engagement by hosting community forums, demonstrations and rallies. For more information, visit http://phillynan.org. About All That Philly Jazz: All That Philly Jazz is a crowdsourced public history project that is mapping Philadelphia’s lost jazz shrines and contextualizing the social history of jazz. For more information, visit http://phillyjazz.us. ###

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