Cell phone video captured the man running away from the statue around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday.
Philadelphia police officers chased the man and took him into custody.
The suspect is identified as a 25-year-old man from Maplewood, New Jersey. He has been charged with Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mischief.
The man is far from the only one taking action, in a variety of ways, to show outrage at monuments many consider glorify racism around the country.
Overnight in Baltimore, four Confederate monuments were quietly removed by the city's mayor.
The spotlight is now falling on the statue of Rizzo, the former law-and-order mayor many critics say used brutal tactics that disproportionately targeted African Americans.
Barricades were set around the statue after an apparent act of vandalism Tuesday night.
WATCH: Possible vandalism at Rizzo statue
South Philadelphia resident Mark Ferguson doesn't want the statue removed.
"We are not saying necessarily that it has to stay here, but we do believe that it's a historic symbol in Philadelphia," Ferguson said.
The statue was erected in 1998.
Asa Khalif, who heads Black Lives Matter PA, claims Rizzo, the mayor from 1972 to 1980, should not be honored and the statue should be gone.
"He was a racist bigot and a homophobe and I think his legacy is that in terms of how he interacted with black and brown people was that of violence and tyranny," Khalif said.
But Jody Della Barba who used to work for Rizzo says critics have it all wrong. She says he was not a racist. Barba says Rizzo was a tough on law breakers of all kinds and won the respect of hard working African Americans.
"If an Italian Americans broke the law, he went after them. They got no breaks. Blacks got no breaks, whites got no breaks, Irish got no breaks, Polish got no breaks. You don't get breaks if you break the law. And that was his philopshy," Barba said.
On Monday, Councilwoman Helen Gym tweeted, "All around the country, we're fighting to remove the monuments to slavery & racism. Philly, we have work to do. Take the Rizzo statue down."
All around the country, we're fighting to remove the monuments to slavery & racism. Philly, we have work to do. Take the Rizzo statue down.— Helen Gym (@HelenGymAtLarge) August 14, 2017
Mayor Jim Kenney didn't mince words either.
"I'm not a big fan of the statue. I wasn't a big fan of the statue when it went up, but it doesn't mean that I can unilaterally tear it down," Kenney said.
He also had strong words about President Donald Trump who has doubled down on his claims that both counter-protesters and white supremacists are to blame for the deadly attacks in Virginia.
WATCH: President Donald Trump's press conference from Trump Tower
"I think the Republican Party and the country need to come to grips with the fact that the guy is out of control," Kenney said.
Kenney released a statement late Tuesday night saying, "We think now is a good time to have that conversation about the statue's future. We need to figure out the proper forum for that conversation in a serious, structured way, but now is the right time."
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