Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philadelphia Story....

Street mural of Frank Rizzo in South Philadelphia

Frank Rizzo joined the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1940s, rising through the ranks to become Police Commissioner in 1967. He served in that role during the turbulent years of 1967 to 1971.

One of the most well known actions taken by Rizzo's police officers were the raids on the Philadelphia offices of the Black Panther Party on August 31, 1970. The raids took place one week before the Panthers planned to convene a "People's Revolutionary Convention" at Temple University. The officers performed a strip search on the arrested Black Panther members in front of the news cameras. The picture ran on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News, and was seen around the world.

A biography of Rizzo, with an introduction written by future police commissioner John Timoney, recounted: "Of one group of anti-police demonstrators, he is reported to have said, 'When I'm finished with them, I'll make Attila the Hun look like a fag.'"

I was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love and moved out of Philadelphia shortly after Frank Rizzo took office as mayor for the first time in 1971. No other figure better epitomizes post-WWII Philadelphia than Frank Rizzo.

One friend of mine was a bouncer at a bar on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia at the time and told me this story.

One day a friend of his who was a canine officer with the Philadelphia Police Department stopped by the bar. While he was there, the mayor stopped by to see someone. The mayor approached the police officer, looked at his dog and asked,

"Does your dog eat niggers?"

The cop, answered nervously, "Um... yes, your honor."

The mayor, of the fifth most populous city in the United States, reached down and patted the dog on the head.

"Good doggie" he said, and smiled.

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