Frank Rizzo mural painted over in South Philadelphia

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Sunday, June 7, 2020
Frank Rizzo mural painted over in South Philadelphia
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The Frank Rizzo mural was painted over in South Philadelphia on Sunday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The South Philadelphia mural of former mayor Frank Rizzo was painted over on Sunday morning.

The news comes days after Mayor Jim Kenny had the Rizzo statue across the street from City Hall removed. The 10-foot-tall bronze statue was erected in 1998, and in recent years was vandalized.

RELATED: Frank Rizzo statue targeted by vandalism; vandals spray paint 'fascist'

Rizzo was a former police commissioner and the former mayor of the city from 1972 to 1980, known for his aggressive policing tactics with African American and LGBT communities.

The Philadelphia Mural Arts organization released a statement saying they look forward to collaborating with the community on a new mural that can reflect the fabric of the community.

"We know that the removal of this mural does not erase painful memories and are deeply apologetic for the amount of grief it has caused. We believe this is a step in the right direction and hope to aid in healing our city through the power of thoughtful and inclusive public art," the organization said. "In the coming weeks, we will be laying the groundwork for creation of the new mural, which will include an extensive community engagement and artist selection process. We will make further announcements regarding next steps in the near future."

Deborah Rizzo, who is related to Frank Rizzo, said painting over the mural is not the right way to move forward.

"For a man who is dead 30 years, I don't see why they are focused on that when they should be focusing on the present. Not going backward, we need to go forward," she said.

The mural was painted in Philadelphia's Italian Market almost 25 years ago. It was defaced several times over the years, including after the race-charged riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.