In Philadelphia, a Brash Ex-Mayor Draws Comparisons to Donald Trump

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tags: election 2016, Trump



His style has evoked polarizing political figures like Barry Goldwater, George Wallace and Edward I. Koch, but as the presidential campaign moves through Pennsylvania, Donald J. Trump is reviving memories of someone who stirred local passions like few others: Frank L. Rizzo of Philadelphia.

A former police officer who was nicknamed Big Bambino, Mr. Rizzo rose to power during the city’s crime-ridden 1960s and ’70s, cracking down on lawlessness with a legendary bellicosity.

After becoming police commissioner, he rounded up homosexuals late at night, forced the Black Panthers to strip down in the streets and once appeared with a nightstick stuffed in the cummerbund of his tuxedo. As mayor, he threatened to “break the heads” of criminals and boasted that his Police Department was strong enough to invade Cuba.

While Mr. Trump has yet to wield such power, his tone as a candidate has been seen as similarly provocative, stoking a comparable zeal among supporters. And Mr. Trump, given his comments on immigrants and Muslims, has stirred similar unease over what he might do in office.




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