“Together, The S. 9th Street Shopping District, the property owners and the Mural Arts program are working to create a new mural, that better represents the fabric of S. 9th Street to replace the current Frank Rizzo mural,” wrote the district on Facebook. “We agree it is time to replace this long-standing piece of art to begin to heal the Black community, the LGBTQ community and many others.”
“The mural will be covered over with a paint coating, and then a new mural will be worked on pretty expeditiously,” said Michele Gambino, acting business manager of the South 9th Street Business Association.
In a statement, the group added that the civil unrest, looting and protests have rocked the city and forced the association to hire private security.
“Since we are also a residential community,” read the statement, “there was much concern for the safety and well-being of our community. We believed it was our responsibility to protect the people that live in the District. Most of our residents live above our businesses. Our goal in hiring private security was to protect the people that live in the district.”
“We needed to protect the residents and we needed to protect the community,” echoed Gambino.
During Rizzo’s tenure as mayor in the ’70s, he was often criticized as being racially motivated, prompting the removal of his likeness now, amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Rizzo mural is often vandalized, and Mural Arts Philadelphia always cleaned it up — at a costly price.
Gambino hopes Mural Arts will help them create a new image.