'Organized' and 'Coordinated' Explosions Hit Philadelphia, 1 Man Dead


As much as I’m not usually a fan of statues being taken down just because a mob is outraged, I’ll make an exception in the case of Frank Rizzo.

No, for our younger (or younger-ish) readers, I’m not talking about the prank call character from the “Jerky Boys.” Rizzo was a Democratic ward-heeler and thug of the old school who was police commissioner and mayor of Philadelphia for far too long.

Think Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago if Daley didn’t have a vestigial conscience left.

In spite of the fact he was a corrupt, sclerotic goon, Philadelphians held some sort of affection for the man and erected a statue of him outside of the city’s Municipal Services Building because, well, these are the same people who root for the Eagles.

As the George Floyd demonstrations grew in the city of Brotherly Love, the left wanted Rizzo’s statue taken down posthaste. It wasn’t because of the reasons I listed above; if Rizzo had kept it to that, his statue would be next to the Liberty Bell. Rather, it was because Rizzo didn’t so much look away from as openly endorse police brutality of the basest and cruelest sort.

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He used to say the way to deal with criminals was to “scappo il capo” — “break the head” in Italian. Rizzo’s Philadelphia became an object lesson in how big government thugs in almost-universally Democratic mayoral offices could, once upon a time in the mid-20th century, pervert the entire criminal justice system in ways that’d seem mind-boggling to any young Hillarista still holding tight to the idea that the Democratic Party is one unbroken line of truth, justice and light stretching from FDR to JFK to Obama.

Oh, and Rizzo was also a massive homophobe and racist, but for a side of the political spectrum that once celebrated both the Philadelphia mayor and characters such as former Klansman Robert Byrd, I’m not exactly giving them points for being outraged about that now.

Anyway, protesters got the statue of Rizzo removed. That’s constructive protesting — and something that, quite frankly, good Republicans should probably raise a sneaky little toast to even if it means the leftists think they’ve scored a win.

Elsewhere in Philadelphia, “protesters” were blowing up ATMs in what police are calling an “organized” and “coordinated” fashion early Tuesday, according to WCAU-TV, leaving one man dead and roughly 50 machines destroyed.

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According to KYW-TV, an unidentified 24-year-old died as a result of his injuries after trying to set off explosives at an automatic teller machine at W. Susquehanna Ave. and N. 2nd St. in the Kensington neighborhood at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Sources said he’d tried to immolate the machine by Sidekicks Sports Bar but was thrown to the ground when the explosives went off. He was rushed to the hospital but died soon after.

A report from WTXF-TV said several eyewitnesses told the station that the man had been shot after the explosion went off. Other reports seemed to indicate this was false and that the individual died solely from injuries in the explosion.

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The death of the unnamed man seemed to be the one thing authorities and the media were clear on, even given the fact that this series of explosions didn’t just happen hours ago.

“Approximately, 50 ATM machines have been damaged or opened via the use of explosives. As best as we can determine, at the moment, the vast majority of these machines were damaged or opened by the use of M250 to M100 illegal explosive devices,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

None ended with the same degree of tragedy that the one at North 2nd St. and Susquehanna Ave. did, however.

At least one man had been arrested in connection with the series of explosions, according to WPVI-TV — although not because he’d perpetrated any of them.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the individual was arrested selling dynamite to undercover officers — enough to blow up four ATMs, they said.

“This isn’t some cherry bomb. This is a serious weapon,” Shapiro said.

“It is incredibly dangerous. People have died as a result of this type of dynamite being on our street.”

Like the people who made a fortune hawking mining equipment to people going out West to find gold, our unidentified dynamite salesman may have been the one making the most money off this particular species of lawlessness. Most ATMs in the area had been emptied of cash as a precaution. One owner even says he put a sign on the ATM saying there was no money in it. It was blown up anyway.

While we’ve seen all manner of lawlessness throughout the country throughout the past few days, ATM detonation seems to have been particularly endemic to Philadelphia. As of Thursday, reports of the explosions continued.

“Surveillance video shows a man lighting an explosive and blowing up an ATM along Township Line Road and Drexel Avenue just after 7 a.m.” Thursday, WPVI-TV reported.

“Officials said at least four other ATMs were targeted overnight, including one outside of a corner deli at 26th and Brown Street in the city’s Fairmount section.

“The explosion there happened around 11 p.m. on Tuesday. Police said they found parts of the machine a few blocks away,” the report continued. “About an hour later, another ATM exploded on the 6600 block of Dicks Avenue, in Southwest Philadelphia.”

At 10 p.m., meanwhile, two other ATMs in the North Philadelphia area blew up.

Police have released video of some of the suspects, but — like so many other instances of rioting and looting across the country — arrests are not exactly being carried out at a breakneck pace, nor would I expect them to proceed in such a manner after calm is fully restored.

And this, in encapsulated form, is why a small group of rioters authorities have been unwilling or unable to control will end up being the image that sticks in our heads when we think back upon these chaotic weeks.

Want to take down Frank Rizzo’s statue? Fine. Good, even. I’ll help. If the city let me do it, I’d join with protesters and drag it down to the Delaware River. We’d attach a few flotation devices on it and then watch it go out with the Atlantic tide. Think of it as a symbolic burial at sea.

Granted, I’d probably be the only person in the crowd who’d go home and watch “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” but it’d be a moment of shared unity. Bon voyage, Frankie.

Instead, that moment of comity didn’t happen, and it’s not just ATMs getting blown up, either.

As The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, rioting and looting began on the 52nd St. corridor, a major commercial district in majority-black West Philadelphia that consists primarily of small businesses.

“By the time the roughly 24-hour spree was over, dozens of businesses in this half-mile stretch of 52nd Street in West Philadelphia were damaged, including a day care, a tax-preparation store and a seller of hijabs,” the report said.

“Buildings were boarded up. Decades of work was destroyed. Some owners were wiped out, unsure if they could make next month’s rent. Businesses that had been gearing up for revival, after weeks of forced closure due to the coronavirus, were facing the prospect of months before they could open their doors, if ever.”

Police didn’t have to act like Frank Rizzo would have them do to stop this. Instead, a hands-off policy that allowed destruction to compound destruction in so many cities has claimed Philadelphia as well.

These protesters didn’t care about George Floyd or abstract notions of systemic racism.

They just wanted to scappo il capo while they could get away with it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture