81 arrested in Philadelphia after fatal police shooting

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Philadelphia officials on Wednesday said 81 people were arrested during the widespread unrest on Tuesday night sparked by the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. The city is bracing for the third night of protests over the death of Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man who was killed after authorities said he ignored orders to drop a knife.

Protesters faced off with police at department headquarters on Tuesday night, where officers were stationed with riot shields. Meanwhile, video showed people streaming into stores and stealing goods on the opposite side of the city from where Wallace was shot. 

Police commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters that of the 81 people arrested, 53 were arrested for burglary, eight were arrested for assaulting officers, and small numbers of others were arrested for crimes including arson, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. There were nearly 300 reported incidents of looting, she said. 

Outlaw added that several officers had what appeared to be blood intentionally thrown on them and said 23 were injured by thrown projectiles. 

She condemned the “widespread lawlessness” in the city, which she said had “absolutely nothing” to do with the peaceful protests over Wallace’s death. “This behavior is not acceptable under any circumstance, nor will it ever be tolerated,” she said. 

Acting Commerce Director Sylie Gallier-Howard said the city is considering a program to help local businesses recover from the looting and violence.  

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney also decried the violence, telling reporters that looters were “in no way honoring the memory of Walter Wallace Jr.” 

Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., pleaded Tuesday for demonstrators to “have respect for my family and my son and stop this violence and chaos that’s going on in the city,” CBS Philadelphia reported.

Kenney added that he has requested the assistance of the Philadelphia National Guard and authorized a citywide curfew beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

The city said in a statement that between October 26 and October 28, there have been 172 felony or misdemeanor arrests and 53 injured officers, one of whom is hospitalized. 

Outlaw promised on Wednesday that the city will release 911 audio and body camera footage showing Wallace’s death “in the near future,” after it has been shown to family members. She said she hopes to meet with family members in “the next couple of days.” She declined to answer specific questions about the incident, saying the footage will “speak for itself.”

Wallace was shot by two officers on Monday afternoon. Police said the officers fired at least seven shots each and neither officer was carrying a Taser. Mayor Kenney on Wednesday said the city supports giving all officers Tasers but that there is not currently enough money in the budget to do so. 

Wallace’s family said they called an ambulance to get him help during a mental health crisis and did not ask for police, the Associated Press reported. Wallace’s mother reportedly said police had been to the house three times on Monday, and claimed police “stood there and laughed at us” during a visit.

Kenney said it was clear that the situation could have been handled better. “We need to do a better job, we need to coordinate better,” he said.  

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