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Mayor Kenney Removes Frank Rizzo Statue; PA Turnpike Fires 500, Now Cashless; Center City Closed 6/3
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 06/03/20 11:19 am | updated: 06/03/20 11:19 am
The City of Philadelphia removed the statue of former Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo from Thomas Paine Plaza early Wednesday morning, 6/3. The 9-foot bronze statue had stood in front of the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall since 1999. It was originally paid for by private funds. Since 2017, there had been increased pressure to have the statue removed and it had frequently been the target of vandalism. Most recently, on Saturday, May 30, it was spray painted and set on fire during protests over the death of George Floyd. Protestors attempted to topple the statue on their own. The statue was going to be moved when Thomas Paine Plaza under goes renovations early next year.

"The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others. The treatment of these communities under Mr. Rizzo's leadership was among the worst periods in Philadelphia’s history. The battle for equal rights and justice is still being fought decades later, and our city is still working to erase that legacy. We now need to work for true equity for all Philadelphia residents, and toward healing our communities. The removal of this statue today is but a small step in that process," Mayor Jim Kenney said in the statement.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted on Tuesday, 6/2, to lay off 500 workers, mainly toll workers. In March, the turnpike moved to a cashless system, primarily to stop the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. Those drivers who do not have E-ZPass where sent a bill in the mail using the TOLL BY PLATE system which takes a photo of your license plate to calculate your toll. Stay-at-home orders across the state have reduced traffic by as much as 50% and toll revenues were down $100 million for the fiscal year ending May 31. The turnpike planned on moving to a cashless system in two years, but the pandemic accelerated its implementation. It will keep the all electronic system going forward and toll collectors will not return to the job. "I deeply regret that we have reached this point, but the world has been irrevocably changed by the global pandemic," said Mark P. Compton, CEO of the turnpike commission. "This pandemic had a much greater impact than anyone could have foreseen. The PA Turnpike has not been spared from COVID-19."

Center City streets will be closed again on Wednesday, 6/3. The closures include Vine to Walnut streets, Schuylkill River to Delaware River, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. City buildings are also closed again today.

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