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Protesters rage in Philadelphia after police murder of Walter Wallace Jr

PHILADELPHIA – Hundreds of people gathered in West Philadelphia on Tuesday to protest the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr, a 27-year-old black man, hours after fierce unrest in response to the incident which plunged part of the city into chaos.

In a video captured by an eyewitness and posted to social media, police fired several shots on Monday afternoon at Wallace Jr., who was seen approaching officers with a knife – and whose mother was on the spot, pleading for de-escalation. Two officers, whose names have not been released, each fired about seven times, police said at a press conference on Tuesday. According to Wallace Jr.’s family attorney, Shaka Johnson, the family contacted emergency services for help with an ongoing mental health crisis, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that officers visited the family home twice that day before the shooting.

Wallace Jr., who is believed to have had seven children and whose wife was expecting, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Hours after the shooting, the protests began and, as they began peacefully, tensions increased, with images on social media showing police beating protesters and protesters throwing objects – including bricks – at the cops.

The difference with a wave of local unrest after the police murder of George Floyd in May: A hotly contested presidential election largely centered on law and order was now in its final days.

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