Explosives Found in Van in Philadelphia, Curfew Imposed to Quell Riots: Reports

October 29, 2020 Updated: October 29, 2020

Police in Philadelphia found explosives and other suspicious materials in a van on Wednesday night, multiple reports said, while authorities imposed a citywide after-dark curfew to quell the violence and looting that erupted following a police-involved shooting.

The vehicle was found at Logan Circle in the Center City neighborhood, WPVI reported. Police told the outlet they recovered propane tanks, torches, and what may have been sticks of dynamite.

Police found no one inside the van, while a witness told authorities they saw a man running from the vehicle, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.

A bomb squad was called out to the scene, with no injuries reported, according to NBC10.

Philadelphia city officials imposed a curfew to quell the outbreak of looting and violence that marred peaceful protests over Monday’s shooting death of Walter Wallace, who was wielding a knife and behaving erratically when shot by police.

Family members of the deceased man said he suffered from mental problems and was undergoing a nervous breakdown when police confronted him.

Wallace’s death sparked two nights of rioting and skirmishes between police and protesters, with earlier reports of around 50 officers injured and 172 people arrested.

Epoch Times Photo
Rioters clash with police in Philadelphia, Penn., on Oct. 27, 2020. (Yuki Iwamura/Reuters)

Calm largely prevailed on Wednesday after Mayor Jim Kenney imposed a curfew, with a protest rally planned for the evening called off, and four people arrested for curfew violations.

Independent reporter Brendan Gutenschwager shared video footage from the scene, showing police carrying riot shields preparing to deploy to potential hot spots around the city.

“Seeing police spread throughout the city, most near retail businesses. Hearing reports of smaller-scale looting but nothing like the scene from last night near Walmart,” he wrote in a tweet.

On Tuesday, rallies began peacefully but grew confrontational as darkness fell, with clashes between police and demonstrators and some looting of stores.

Epoch Times Photo
A fire is seen as people clash with police in Philadelphia, Penn., on Oct. 27, 2020. (Yuki Iwamura/Reuters)

Police turned out in force to cordon off a West Philadelphia commercial district that was looted the previous night, but looters broke into businesses elsewhere, including in the city’s Port Richmond section, aerial news video from WPVI television showed. Footage shared on social media showed a steady stream of looters carrying out items from a Walmart.

Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management issued a warning to residents in seven of the city’s districts to remain indoors, stating, “These areas are experiencing widespread demonstrations that have turned violent with looting.”

Tension has gripped the city since the Oct. 26 deadly police shooting of Wallace, whose father, Walter Wallace Sr., later appealed to people to “stop the violence” out of respect for his son and family.

“I don’t condone no violence, tearing up the city, looting of the stores, and all this chaos,” he told reporters and a gathering of people. “It’s an SOS to help, not to hurt.”

Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder, and his psychological difficulties were relayed by his wife to the officers who encountered him before the shooting, a lawyer for his family said.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, defended the officers.

“These officers were aggressively approached by a man wielding a knife,” he said in a statement.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has mobilized the National Guard to Philadelphia in response to the unrest, officials told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Several hundred guardsmen are slated to be deployed within the next 24 to 48 hours, confirmed Lt. Col. Keith Hickox, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement that an investigation into Wallace’s shooting is underway.

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.

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