Under the gaze of slave-owner William Penn standing above City Hall, and a few blocks from the parkway named after slave-owner Benjamin Franklin, acolytes gathered around the statue of Frank Rizzo in front of the Municipal Services Building.
It was Wednesday, Oct. 23, the 99th anniversary of the birth of the late police commissioner, mayor, political goliath and accused racist. His birthday was the focus of the gathering.
The weather could not have been better. The turnout could not have been worse — two dozen, counting a few officers from the Police Department’s Civil Affairs Unit. Not even Frank Rizzo Jr. attended.
As event organizer Barbara Ann Zippi-Och fiddled with a balky public address system, I looked over the paltry crowd just as MC Dom Giordano arrived around 12:30.
A half-hour earlier he had lightly promoted the party on his morning show on 1210WPHT-AM.
The turnout might be explained by poor advance publicity or maybe because the bulk of Rizzo advocates have died, leaving the field to his detractors.
Giordano spun a few Rizzo stories, noted this would have been Rizzo’s 99th birthday and talked about the planned move of the statue. He asked no one in particular, but looking at City Hall across the street, “You can put up with it for another year.”
Giordano was to get a surprise after the ceremony ended. I will tell you, but you will have to wait.
With my permission, Zippi-Och took a column I wrote in May 2018 and dramatized it, with her playing me and Silvio Lelli playing Rizzo.
It’s the closest I have felt to Arthur Miller.
In that column, Rizzo correctly predicted Mayor Kenney would not move the statue before the mayoral election. In a column in August 2018 I discussed the politics behind the statue’s move.
That column said the statue had been in front of the MSB since 1999, and it wasn’t racist until woke Councilwoman and irrational scold Helen Gym decided it was.
Well, use the R-word and you are winning on points in cities controlled by PC-obsessed “progressives.”
Even though Kenney once supported renaming the MSB after Rizzo, once he heard the R-word, he rolled over at Gym’s feet so she could scratch his belly.
I am waiting for the hysterical hypocrites to call for the excommunication of slave owners Penn and Franklin — and throw in George Washington for good measure. Their sins were far worse than Rizzo’s. They actually owned people. How can you possibly give them a pass? Looking right at you, Hysterical Helen.
Republican mayoral candidate Billy Ciancaglini said, “When I am elected, this statue will not move one inch.”
He emphasized “when.”
The small group sang “Happy Birthday” to Rizzo, followed by “God Bless America,” with Giordano wishing well to Kate Smith, “wherever she is.” Smith was an earlier victim of statue frenzy.
As the crowd broke up, Giordano was approached by Philadelphia Tribune reporter Mike D’Onofrio with a surprise.
The Rizzo statue will not be moved until June 2021, at the earliest, according to the mayor’s office.
If D’Onofrio is right, next year’s 100th birthday celebration will be conducted in front of the Municipal Services Building.
Hopefully before a much larger crowd.