By Jack Tomczuk
Officials imposed a curfew Wednesday following the second night of protest and rioting after the death of Walter Wallace Jr. at the hands of police in West Philadelphia.
Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are being mobilized and they are expected to begin arriving Friday to guard stores and commercial areas, if needed, officials said.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, meanwhile, said her department plans to release body-worn camera video from the officers who shot Wallace and tape from the 911 call in the “near future.”
Looting spread Tuesday night from West Philadelphia, which has served as a hub of protest activity, to Port Richmond, about eight-and-half miles away. At one point, about 1,000 people were ransacking stores along Aramingo Avenue, authorities said.
On Wednesday morning, trash and debris littered the parking lot of the Walmart just off Aramingo, and people rummaged through damp clothing left behind by looters as a security alarm continued to sound.
At a strip mall across the street, nearly every shop was hit, and those that weren’t were boarding up as a precaution.
There were no indications or warnings that looters would target Port Richmond’s commercial strip, Philadelphia Police Department leaders said.
“This is a big city, and Castor and Aramingo has never been on the radar,” Outlaw said.
Mayor Jim Kenney said looters were taking advantage of the demonstrations that broke out in the wake of Wallace’s killing.
“The looting that has taken place in several neighborhoods of Philadelphia is distressing to say the least, and it is unacceptable,” Kenney told reporters.
Protesters gathered Tuesday evening near Malcolm X Park and began marching.
Police say groups in West Philadelphia later became violent, tossing bricks at officers and, in some cases, throwing what appeared to blood. There were 23 officers injured across the city Tuesday night into Wednesday, officials said.
A police sergeant who was run over by a pickup truck the night before is the only officer who has remained hospitalized, and the District Attorney’s Office has charged at least one suspect in that incident, 28-year-old Quinzell Armstrong.
Officials said 81 people were arrested, including 53 accused of burglary, bringing the total to 170 since Monday.
Nine ATMs were blown up across the city Tuesday into Wednesday, and agitators vandalized nine police vehicles, according to the PPD.
Authorities have released few details about the timeline of Wallace’s death, though Outlaw said she intends to be transparent with the investigation. PPD will put out the body cam footage and other information after going over it with the Wallace family, she said.
Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man who reportedly suffered from mental issues, died after a pair of officers fired 14 shots at him while he was armed with a knife Monday afternoon on the 6100 block of Locust Street.
Police responded to the area after a call came in about a person with a knife screaming, PPD leaders have said.
In a witness video of the incident, officers are seen backing into the street, ordering Wallace to drop the weapon. He comes out from behind a parked car and approaches police before they open fire.
Wallace is a father who leaves behind a pregnant wife and several children.
“We need to do more to provide mental health support when families are in crisis,” Gov. Tom Wolf said on Twitter. “Families and police officers are put in impossible situations, and this cannot occur, again, for the safety and security of our communities.”
Kayleigh McEnany, President Donald Trump’s press secretary issued a statement Wednesday, saying the unrest is “the most recent consequence of the Liberal Democrats’ war against the police.”
She said the Trump administration is prepared to fulfill any request to deploy resources to put an end to the violence and destruction of property.
“In America, we resolve conflicts through the courts and the justice system,” McEnany said. “We can never allow mob rule.”
The shooting is being reviewed by PPD’s officer-involved shooting unit, as well as the District Attorney’s Office.
This story first appeared on our sister publication philly.metro.us.