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.
“I hope there won’t be looting and rioting because that’s not what it is. It’s not about depriving the community or the people of West Philly, ”Brittany Meyers. 28, from west Philadelphia, told the Daily Beast. “But I will defend my house against these cops. And whoever takes office must tackle this racism. “
At the height of the chaos late Monday and early Tuesday, a local news van was damaged and at least one police car was set on fire. At the end of the evening, according to the most recent statement from the Philadelphia Police Department, 91 people were arrested and 30 officers were injured, including one officer who was struck by a car on 52nd and Walnut streets.
On Tuesday, the National Guard was activated. And as the protests began without incident that evening, at 9 p.m., looting was again reported in parts of the city.
Still, protesters were wary of a president who repeatedly chose their polling stations for scrutiny from his rabid fans, tweeting again on Tuesday, “Philadelpiha [sic] MUST HAVE POLLWATCHERS! “
“Philadelphia is sick and tired of being sick and tired,” JT Hall, 30, told the Daily Beast. “And it doesn’t help that we have a president who says, you know, ‘Bad things are happening in Philadelphia.’ It must stop.
Hall said he showed up to protest after watching what he described as “the rebellion” unfold last night.
“It’s not looting. It’s a rebellion, ”he said. “Do you want to take our lives?” We will hit you in your pockets.
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