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Protesters Vandalizing, Trying To Set Fire To Frank Rizzo Statue

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- Protesters are vandalizing and trying to set fire to the controversial statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo. Saturday's protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died earlier this week in Minneapolis while police were arresting him.

Frank Rizzo Statue Burning
(credit: CBS3)

Protesters have been trying to bring down the 2,000-pound, 10-foot statue outside of the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall.

Frank Rizzo Statue Vandalized
(credit: CBS3)

The statue was donated to the city and unveiled in 1999.

Rizzo's critics, many of them people of color, recall his approach to policing and governing as corrupt and racist. The South Philadelphia native served as mayor from 1972 to 1980 and is remembered by supporters as a devoted, outspoken public servant who championed the city.

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Rizzo became police commissioner in 1967, memorably responding to a disturbance at a housing project wearing a tuxedo with a nightstick tucked into his cummerbund. He served two terms as mayor as a Democrat before switching to the GOP.

His four-year stint as commissioner was marked by praise for crime-fighting and criticism for rights infringement and was punctuated by some confrontations with African-Americans. In 1967, Rizzo and the police confronted a few hundred black students protesting outside the Board of Education Building. Officers clubbed some of the students after a few climbed atop cars. In 1970, two groups affiliated with the Black Panthers were raided and strip-searched on the sidewalk.

The statue has been defaced before and is to be moved next year.

A mandatory curfew has been issued in Philadelphia from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday. The curfew will go back into effect Sunday night from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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