Philadelphia Protests

After two nights of protests and looting following the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia, a curfew has been imposed in the city. The curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. and will last until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Kenney says the National Guard is deploying and the first troops are expected to arrive in the city on Friday.

Media reports including reports by The Philadelphia Inquirer and CBS3 said:

City officials are hoping a newly-enforced rule in the form of a 9 p.m. curfew means less looting and a more peaceful Wednesday night.

“A curfew allows us to control the environment, especially in areas where we have seen civil unrest,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

She says the goal is not to penalize those who are peacefully protesting but rather the curfew allows police to identify so-called agitators who are mixing in with the crowds.

“They know, the agitators know that we have to be very methodical about how we identify who the agitators are, then make direct contact with them and also at the same time ensure we are not indiscriminately impacting those who have nothing to do with those who are causing the agitation,” Outlaw said.

Mayor Kenney says the city will assess the situation each day, then decide if they need to continue implementing curfews.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the 18th Police Precinct in West Philadelphia Wednesday night.

As evening arrived and the sun set, business owners put the final touches on their makeshift barriers, fearing a third night of looting and violent demonstrations does not materialize.

“Just boarding up, we got hit last night,” said the owner of Sun Laundromat, Kevin Phang. “I mean, it really sucks because you know, this is our only location. We’re not a big corporation where we lost a store, it’s fine, the next day we’ll still make money. For small businesses, it really sucks.”

“Protest, you know, what I mean. That is our God-given right but this doesn’t help, especially with everything that is going on in 2020,” said Phang.

The curfew is creating a new hurdle for businesses already hurting from the pandemic.

While some restaurants in Center City entertained guests up until 9 p.m., some have opted to keep their doors closed for the day.

The last time the City of Philadelphia faced a curfew was back in June after looting and rioting that followed the George Floyd protests.

The National Guard was brought in to keep the city under control. For now, Philadelphia police and other agencies are holding down the fort.

Police say 81 arrests were made overnight — 53 of them for burglary — and 23 officers were injured. They have since been treated and released.

Overall, since Monday, 172 arrests have been made and 53 officers have been injured, including a female officer who was struck by a vehicle.

Police say looting along Aramingo Avenue in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood Tuesday night was a “total loss.”

“I’m very disturbed by the damage that is being done in the communities,” Kenney said during a Wednesday press conference, saying he has requested the Pennsylvania National Guard to help deal with the looting in the city.

The looting and protests stem after two police officers shot and killed 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia on Monday. Police say Wallace walked towards the officers while holding a knife and refused to drop it He was shot 14 times and neither officer was carrying a taser, officials say.

Wallace’s family is pleading for the unrest to end.

“Have respect for my family and my son and stop this violence and chaos that’s going on in the city,” Walter Wallace Sr. said Tuesday.

Wallace’s mother, Cathy Wallace, recounted the seconds before the shooting.

“I was telling the police to stop. ‘Do not shoot my son. Please don’t shoot my son,’” she recalled.

As the formal investigation continues, family attorney Shaka Johnson gave details about what led to the encounter.

“The man was suffering. He was on doctor’s care. He was on a regiment of lithium, etc., and the police were here earlier that day,” Johnson said.

Johnson says police were called at least three times to the home. The final 911 call was made by Wallace Jr.’s brother, asking for medics.

“The ambulance never made it,” Johnson said.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw pledged to release 911 calls and body-worn camera footage of the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.

Although previous police shootings of Black men in Philadelphia have sparked protests, the department has never before released police footage of an officer’s shooting.

Outlaw said she was committed to “a fair and thorough investigation,” and promised to release the materials in the coming days after showing them to Wallace’s family.

While the mayor and commissioner on Wednesday complimented those who had taken to the streets during impassioned protests, they also condemned demonstrations that ended in clashes with police and with people robbing stores in West Philadelphia and Port Richmond.

Several businesses on Wednesday night were being targeted for break-ins along City Avenue, including some on the Lower Merion Township side of the border with Philadelphia, police said.

For several hours, Philadelphia police were tracking caravans of vehicles — including with a possibly stolen U-Haul truck — near shopping centers around the city.

State police stopped one caravan in the area of City Avenue and conducted arrests after recovering a gun, police said.

Several other people stopped near a Rite Aid on City Avenue were arrested after police allegedly found they had a gun, too.

Police from Lower Merion Township and Philadelphia were posted at the damaged Lord & Taylor on City Avenue. The department store, which had a large glass window shattered, is among 19 locations that were set to permanently close as part of the chain’s bankruptcy reorganization.

Police were protecting a nearby Acme supermarket and had blocked off Monument Road leading to a Target department store, which also was being guarded by officers.

Police said there were sporadic incidents of businesses being hit in the Kensington and Frankford sections of the city.

A van and a truck also suspected of targeting businesses were stopped by police in the area of the Ben Franklin Parkway. The van reportedly contained some suspicious devices that were being checked by the police bomb squad. There had been several reports earlier of ATMS being targeted around the city.

Police on Wednesday night took a small group of people into custody for violating the city’s curfew while they were protesting at the 18th District headquarters at 55th and Pine Streets in West Philadelphia.

The arrests appeared to be orderly. The police station had been the scene of tense standoffs the last two nights since civil unrest erupted after officers fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday afternoon.

In Center City, units from the Pennsylvania State Police began to stage near Love Park with horse-mounted units. The state troopers were deployed from Allentown, Lancaster, Hazleton — and the horses were from Hershey.

As curfew approached, Center City appeared quiet, with small numbers of people out — some walking dogs, eating or picking up food from restaurants that remained open. Police were stationed on some corners, and some business windows were boarded up.

A planned demonstration that had been promoted on social media for Washington Square drew around 20 people who milled about and then dispersed. There were a few scattered reports of people trying to enter closed businesses elsewhere in the city but then being chased away by police.

Gov. Wolf signs disaster proclamation

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed a proclamation of disaster emergency to provide additional state resources to Philadelphia in response to the unrest that has occurred.

“Over the last few days, hundreds of people have gathered to peacefully speak out against social injustice, but their voices are being drowned out by others who are taking advantage of this fragile time in their city to sow mayhem and discord,” Wolf said. “I signed this proclamation so commonwealth resources can be provided quickly to protect lives and property.”

The action allows state agencies to use resources and personnel, as needed, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation.

The proclamation is effective for a 90-day period unless sooner rescinded or extended by Wolf.

The first group from the National Guard is expected to arrive in Philly on Friday with more expected on Saturday, said Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, also the city’s director of emergency management.

Outlaw said she would like at least for every police officer in operations to have a Taser. That would require about 4,400 to 4,500 Tasers. Outlaw said the department currently has about 2,300.

Philly council members urge voter support for police reform

Two days after police fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr., members of Philadelphia City Council on Wednesday renewed calls for residents to vote in favor of several city police reforms on the Nov. 3 ballot, including establishing a civilian-led oversight commission, office of victim advocate, and banning the practice of stop-and-frisk.

“The question becomes, who polices the police? We the people should,” said Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr., adding that he learned that officers fatally shot Wallace Monday while participating in a listening session over the police advisory commission.

Addressing Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw’s comments that not all officers — including those who shot Wallace — are equipped with Tasers, Clarke told reporters that Council is prepared to fund the department’s five-year, $14 million plan to equip all officers with Tasers.

A plan was announced to introduce a bill Thursday that would attempt to address racial bias and inequality in motor vehicle stops by banning police from pulling drivers over for minor issues such as a single brake light being out, tinted windows, or an out-of-date inspection. Instead, vehicle owners would be mailed warning notices.

The day after the second night of protests sparked by the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., the labor union UNITE HERE hosted a canvassing kickoff in Malcolm X Park to link the fight against police brutality and the movement for Black lives to this year’s election.

“When I see what happened to Walter, I see my grandsons,” said Earlene Bly, a lead canvasser and UNITE HERE staffer. “I see my uncles, my cousins. I see myself. I see all of you who look like me. I see all of us in Walter because we’re all told by this country’s actions that our lives don’t matter.”

Since the beginning of the month, UNITE HERE, which represents 6,000 low-wage service workers in Philadelphia, most of whom were laid off during the pandemic, has sent hundreds of their furloughed members into low-income, low turnout neighborhoods to get out the vote for Biden-Harris. The union, which is doing the same in the swing states of Arizona and Florida, says it’s the biggest canvassing operation in the state.

Study: Rate of fatal police shootings of Black, indigenous, and other people of color remained constant from 2015 to 2020

A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found that the rate of fatal police shootings for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) was constant from 2015 to 2020. BIPOC also had significantly higher death rates compared with whites in the overall victim pool, and among unarmed victims.

Researchers analyzed publicly available data from the Washington Post, which tracked fatal police shootings for the study. They identified fatal police shootings as an emergency that demands attention from health professionals, who can help frame police violence against BIPOC as a public health crisis for policymakers.

West Philly residents say they are used to seeing Black people abused

For many West Philadelphians, the shock and grief of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. is tinged with a terrible sense of familiarity.

Just five months ago, the tear gassing of the predominantly Black neighborhood prompted outrage and a promise from officials that reform would come and officers would be held accountable. After Wallace’s death on Monday — in broad daylight, on his own street, as his mother and neighbors begged police not to shoot — those promises seem hollow for many in the neighborhood.

“They don’t want anything to be different,” said Kamau Mshale, an activist and longtime West Philadelphia resident. “They just want people to shut up about it.”

“It is sadly unsurprising. We’ve seen a number of losses of this kind — it’s tremendously traumatizing for that entire community,” said Krystal Strong, a University of Pennsylvania professor, West Philadelphia resident, and organizer with the Black Philly Radical Collective, an assembly of activist groups that includes Black Lives Matter. “We know that this is what we can expect from the Philadelphia police force.”

Who was Walter Wallace Jr.? A father, a newlywed, and a quiet neighbor

A few steps from chalk lines that had circled shell casings and other evidence from a Monday afternoon police shooting in West Philadelphia, family, friends, and neighbors recalled 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr.:

A father of eight who struggled with mental illness. A quiet neighbor. An Uber Eats driver and aspiring rapper.

A cousin opened the doors of her red Toyota Camry, plugged her phone into its speakers, and played one of Wallace’s songs, “Black Hearted,” then doubled over in the middle of the 6100 block of Locust Street and wept.

Neighbors and family members sat on their steps and leaned over porch railings, swaying back and forth, their eyes closed, as the song’s lyrics described police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The words played out in real life the day before, when two police officers responded to a call for help at the Wallace rowhouse and then ended up firing 14 bullets at a distraught young man who they said approached them armed with a knife.

“He was a family man,” said Tasha White, who lives a few doors down. “He walked with his kids and he walked with his mom.”

“He was a quiet kid,” White said. “Whatever happened yesterday, that was different. That wasn’t normal.”

Top of Form

Philadelphia police discover van ‘loaded with explosives’

A bomb squad has been called to investigate a suspicious van loaded with propane tanks, flares and “possible dynamite sticks,” local media report, as authorities struggle to contain unrest and looting across Philadelphia.

The abandoned vehicle was discovered around 10pm local time, roughly an hour after a citywide curfew kicked in on Wednesday night.

Police cordoned off the area while ATF agents and a bomb squad recovered multiple “propane tanks, torches and possible dynamite sticks,”according to 6abc Action News.

No one was found inside the van, and authorities have yet to determine if the finding is somehow related to the ongoing unrest in the city.

However, despite city police being on high alert and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf activating the state National Guard to help quell the unrest, multiple incidents of vandalism and smaller-scale looting were reported across the city. In the three nights of unrest, city officials say some 200 businesses were targeted for ransacking.

Nine ATMs were blown up

Earlier reports said:

Nine ATMs were blown up overnight Tuesday alone, which is something of a tradition during Philadelphia riots. About 50 ATMs around the city were bombed during Black Lives Matter protests in early June, and in one of those cases, the would-be thief was killed in the explosion.

 


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