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October 21, 2017

Police: 3 injured after skirmish with protesters near Rizzo statue

Protests Police
Frank Rizzo statue cleaned Patricia Madej /PhillyVoice Staff

The spray-painted phrase "black power" was removed from a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo after a vandal defaced it in August 2017.

What began as a protest against police brutality marching through Center City turned violent on Saturday.

Two police officers and one protester suffered minor injuries in a clash near the statue of the late Police Commissioner and Mayor Frank Rizzo around 2:45 p.m., Philadelphia police said.

The skirmish appeared to leave some protesters bloodied, according to multiple reports. WHYY News reported that protesters wrestled with police around the Rizzo statue and pulled down their bicycles.

Police claim that the two officers "were injured by protesters." One officer suffered a nose injury, while another received minor injuries to his leg. Both are expected to be treated and released, police said.

Four demonstrators were issued disorderly conduct citations and two face charges of assaulting officers, police said.

One of those who were cited suffered minor injuries to the cheek, police said. He was taken by police to Hahnemann University Hospital and later released.

Police did not say what triggered the skirmish. reported that the Philly Coalition for R.E.A.L Justice held the protest and kicked it off at noon outside the Philadelphia Convention Center, where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had addressed thousands of law enforcement officials earlier in the day at the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The longstanding controversy over the statue's perch outside the Municipal Services Building in Center City intensified in August when City Councilwoman-at-large Helen Gym called for its removal after a deadly clash between a "Unite the Right" rally and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Days later, a group of protesters demonstrated against the controversial city-owned statue following the "Philly is Charlottesville" march that had drawn a huge crowd to Center City earlier that evening.

One day after that, a former candidate for mayor allegedly spraypainted the statue with the words "Black Power" and "the Black community should be their own police."

At the time, city officials said "now is the time" to discuss the monument's future, and even solicited ideas from the public on the matter.

Those who want to keep the statue argue that Rizzo worked to change the culture within the city’s police department during his distinguished tenure as commissioner, and then as mayor.

But its opponents say it glorifies a former police commissioner and mayor who they say targeted the city's black and gay communities.