Protests, unrest over Black man’s killing by cops
PHILADELPHIA — Tense Philadelphia braced for more demonstrations Wednesday over the police killing of a Black man following two nights of protests that set off clashes with police and breakins of stores on the other side of the city.
The death of Walter Wallace Jr., who was fatally shot by police Monday after authorities say he ignored orders to drop a knife, came amid already heightened tensions in the battleground state just days before the election. City officials announced Wednesday they would enact a curfew in the city from 9 p. m. until 6 a. m.
About 500 people gathered in a West Philadelphia park Tuesday evening, marching to the nearby police headquarters where officers were stationed with riot shields. Some of the demonstrators threw debris at officers, according to police, and the two sides later clashed.
Police said two officers were injured, although authorities did not disclose the extent of their injuries.
Some business owners were cleaning up damage and boarding up windows and doors Wednesday after video showed people streaming into stores and stealing goods on the opposite side of the city from where Wallace was shot. The National Guard is slated to arrive in the next few days to focus on guarding infrastructure, state and city officials said.
The clashes come as Pennsylvania emerges as a key focus of the contentious 2020 election, with President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, a native son, locked in a battle for the state’s 20 electoral votes. Both candidates have made frequent campaign stops in the state.
Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, said Tuesday the city had been through “a very difficult time,” but said vandalism was not the answer.
“There were a lot of peaceful protesters out there last night,” Kenney said at a news conference on Wallace’s death. However, he said, violence “is not an acceptable form of First Amendment expression.”
At a Las Vegas campaign event, Trump said: “You can’t let that go on. Again, a Democratrun state, a Democratrun city, Philadelphia.”
Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Del., after voting on Wednesday, Biden said that “there is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence,” but he said protesting overall is “totally legitimate.”
Police said Wallace was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots. But his family’s lawyer said the family had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis.
A woman cleans up debris at a Walmart damaged in protests over the death of Walter Wallace Jr., killed by Philadelphia police after authorities say he ignored orders to drop a knife.