Tom Rizzo Popular Books

Tom Rizzo Biography & Facts

Francis Lazarro Rizzo (October 23, 1920 – July 16, 1991) was an American police officer and politician. He served as commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) from 1968 to 1971 and mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980. He was a member of the Democratic Party throughout the entirety of his career in public office. He switched to the Republican Party in 1986 and campaigned as a Republican for the final five years of his life. Like most of his contemporaries, Rizzo was opposed to the construction of public housing in established neighborhoods, most of which at the time housed majority-white populations.Rizzo was barred from running for a third term in office by Philadelphia's city charter. He attempted to vote in a charter change to allow him to attempt a run for reelection but was soundly defeated after urging supporters to "vote white", which he later admitted was "a poor choice of words". Before, during, and after his tenure as police commissioner, the PPD engaged in patterns of police misconduct, in particular toward the black community. The patterns of police brutality were documented in a Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia Inquirer series by William K. Marimow and Jon Neuman. Early life Rizzo was born in Philadelphia, where his father Rafael was a police officer. He grew up in a South Philadelphia row house neighborhood. During his senior year he dropped out of Southern High School; he later earned a high school equivalency diploma and took government courses at the Fels Institute of Government.Enlisting in the United States Navy, Rizzo served on the USS Houston cruiser for 19 months before being medically discharged due to diabetes insipidus. Returning to Philadelphia, Rizzo worked for Midvale Steel, helping manufacture naval guns in the lead-up to World War II. Police commissioner Rizzo joined the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) in 1943, rising through the ranks to become captain of the 19th district. In 1967, Rizzo was appointed commissioner by Mayor James Tate. Through various challenges, racial divisions in particular, facing the city, Tate continued to support Rizzo as police commissioner. He was boisterous and brooding, particularly to media. 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 faggot.'" A reporter who covered the Rizzo years, Andrea Mitchell, recounted routinely brutish behavior at the force as part of a broad pattern of Rizzo bravado.Rizzo resigned as commissioner in 1971 to run for mayor. Relationship with black Americans and police riots Rizzo's relationship with Philadelphia's black community was volatile, with the PPD's reputation suffering among black people. During Rizzo's tenure as division captain and commissioner, critics often charged that he was racially motivated, targeting activities in black neighborhoods.It was during Rizzo's tenure as deputy commissioner that black and white officers assigned to the city's predominantly black neighborhoods worked in tandem in an attempt to reduce friction between civilians and police forces. As commissioner, Rizzo's department had one of the largest percentages of black officers among large U.S. police departments, with 20% in 1968, at a time when other departments had little if any success in recruiting black people.However, hiring of black officers declined sharply during Rizzo's tenure as police commissioner. From 1966 to 1970, the percentage of black police officers hired declined from 27.5% to 7.7%. This precipitated a decline in the overall proportion of black Philadelphia police officers: from 21% in 1967 to 18% in 1971.One of the force's most widely publicized actions under Commissioner Rizzo was raiding the Philadelphia offices of the Black Panther Party on August 31, 1970, 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 Panthers before cameras, after a Fairmount Park Police Officer had been murdered. The picture ran on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News and was seen around the world. Days later the charges against the Panthers were dropped for lack of evidence. Subsequently the search was ruled illegal. Four people unrelated to the Panthers were ultimately found guilty of the murder.As mayor, Rizzo's handling of the first MOVE incident in 1978 has been interpreted as supporting the charge of racism. When members of the group refused entrance to city inspectors, Rizzo evicted them through armed police action. Snipers were positioned around the house and the compound was blockaded by 1,000 police officers refusing any entry of food or water. When the police finally attempted to lay siege to the compound, officer James Ramp was killed in the conflict, and 16 other police and firefighters injured. Though MOVE members disagreed, it was claimed that Officer James Ramp was killed by MOVE gunfire. Eventually, the standoff was resolved without further loss of life, and the members of MOVE were arrested. One unarmed MOVE member, Delbert Africa, was beaten by multiple officers while leaving the MOVE house with his hands up. The incident as captured by the local news media shows Africa being dragged by his hair, struck with an officer's helmet, and kicked in the face and groin once on the ground. Mayor of Philadelphia Election to first term Although not being elected yet, Rizzo essentially functioned as mayor before the election, as Mayor James Tate had announced on television that he was retiring and naming Rizzo "de facto" mayor of Philadelphia. Asked if this was legal, Tate only laughed and replied that he was retiring. Rizzo finally ran for mayor in 1971. That year, he faced Democratic mayoral candidates Rep. William J. Green III, a former Democratic city chairman; State Rep. Hardy Williams; and former city councilman David Cohen. Cohen withdrew from the race and endorsed Green. Rizzo then defeated Green and Williams in the Democratic primary. Running as a Democrat in the November 1971 election, Rizzo defeated former (and future) Councilman-at-Large and Chamber of Commerce President Thacher Longstreth. Unlike his opponents, Rizzo did not issue campaign position papers; he thought his slogan, "firm but fair," sufficiently explained his expected role. Little animosity existed between the two candidates, and when Rizzo died suddenly during a later mayoral campaign in 1991, Longstreth wept. First term Rizzo was not without adversaries, even at the start of his first term. The Evening Bulletin interviewed former Mayor and School Board President Richardson Dilworth about allegations he made in the San Francisco Chronicle that Rizzo had used the police for political espionage; Dilworth's allegations launched a new and enduring feud between the two.G.... Discover the Tom Rizzo popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Tom Rizzo books.

Best Seller Tom Rizzo Books of 2024

  • The Lawkeepers synopsis, comments

    The Lawkeepers

    Tom Rizzo

    Maintaining law and order in the Old West stood as a major challenge to those who chose to wear a badge. The hours were long. The expanse of the areas under a lawman’s jurisdiction...

  • When the Smoke Clears synopsis, comments

    When the Smoke Clears

    Tom Rizzo

    Much of the legend and the lore of the Old West involve gunslingers and gunfights. Most of the people who populated the new American frontier in the 19th century owned guns and use...

  • The Unexpected and Other Stories synopsis, comments

    The Unexpected and Other Stories

    Tom Rizzo

    In this first book in the series Tall Tales from the High Plains & Beyond. In Book One: The Unexplained and Other Stories, you get upcloseandpersonal with characters and events...

  • The LawBreakers synopsis, comments

    The LawBreakers

    Tom Rizzo

    Most of the people who settled in the West didn’t wake up in the morning and strap on a gun. Nor did they get involved in shootouts. As in any society, the Old West had its share o...

  • Last Stand at Bitter Creek synopsis, comments

    Last Stand at Bitter Creek

    Tom Rizzo

    For one battleweary Union spy the Civil War is not over.The bodies of an Army patrol carrying out a secret mission for the president lay in the bloodsoaked soil of a remote ravine,...