Philadelphia Rocked by Second Night of Looting and Violence

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
October 28, 2020Updated: October 28, 2020

Looting and violence broke out in the streets of Philadelphia late Oct. 27, in the second night of unrest following a police-involved shooting.

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

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.”

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 Police said that up to 1,000 people were involved in looting in the area of Castor and Aramingo avenues and urged residents to avoid the area. Police have yet to detail the night’s arrests and injuries. Unrest the previous night had injured 30 officers and led to 90 arrests, they said.

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Police officers line up as demonstrators take part in rally in Philadelphia, Penn., on Oct. 27, 2020. (Bastiaan Slabbers/Reuters)

Tension has gripped the city since the Oct. 26 deadly police shooting of Walter Wallace, who was armed with a knife and described by relatives as suffering from a mental breakdown, in a confrontation with law enforcement.

Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., 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.”

Unrest in Philadelphia came hours after a bystander’s video of the shooting was posted on social media. The footage showed Wallace approaching two police officers who had drawn their guns and warned him to put down the knife. The officers were backing up before the camera cut briefly away as gunfire erupted and Wallace collapsed.

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.

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Police officers move in formation during a protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia, Penn., on Oct. 26, 2020. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

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.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reacted to the unrest in a statement: “The riots in Philadelphia are the most recent consequence of the liberal Democrats’ war against the police. Law enforcement is an incredibly dangerous occupation, and thousands of officers have given their lives in the line of duty.

“All lethal force incidents must be fully investigated. The facts must be followed wherever they lead to ensure fair and just results,” the statement said. “In America, we resolve conflicts through the courts and the justice system. We can never allow mob rule. The Trump administration stands proudly with law enforcement, and stands ready, upon request, to deploy any and all federal resources to end these riots.”

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.

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People stand near the scene of a police shooting after police officers fatally shot a man during a confrontation in Philadelphia, Penn., on Oct. 26, 2020. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

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

“We intend to go where the facts and law lead us and to do so carefully, without rushing to judgment and without bias of any kind,” he said. “In the hours and days following this shooting, we ask Philadelphians to come together to uphold people’s freedom to express themselves peacefully and to reject violence of any kind.”

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.