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Curfew In Philadelphia Lifts As City Is Roiled By Protests In Walter Wallace Shooting

Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday in Philadelphia following this week's fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man.
Matt Slocum
Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday in Philadelphia following this week's fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET Thursday

Philadelphia officials issued a citywide curfew on Wednesday after consecutive nights of protests — which at times turned violent — following the fatal police shooting of a 27-year-old Black man, Walter Wallace Jr.

He was holding a knife when police shot him.

The was in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday and lasts until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney lamented the looting and property destruction that's taken place during nighttime protests.

"By looting, people are not only hurting retail businesses that have struggled in the midst of the pandemic, but they're doing a great disservice to the many others who want to exercise their First Amendment rights by protesting," Kenney said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies may operate in a delivery-only capacity once the curfew is in effect.

City officials said Wednesday afternoon that 81 people had been arrested during the previous night's demonstrations, including 53 for burglary, seven for disorderly conduct and eight accused of assaulting police.

Wednesday night a cell phone video was posted online which shows Philadelphia police surrounding an SUV during the protests, smashing the windows and pulling the driver, a passenger and a toddler from the vehicle.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Aapril Rice, 30, said she livestreamed the video early Tuesday from her rooftop, hours after Wallace had been killed. The police said an investigation has been opened into the incident.

Police will soon release 911 tapes, body camera footage

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday her department would be releasing 911 tapes and officer-worn body camera footage "in the near future."

"Before that happens, however, we'll be meeting with members of Wallace's family to ensure they get an opportunity to view the materials first," Outlaw said.

City officials urged residents in certain districts to remain indoors Tuesday night due to "widespread demonstrations that have turned violent with looting."

Several hundred troops from the Pennsylvania National Guard will be deployed to Philadelphia at the county's request as soon as Wednesday evening.

Community members gather in West Philly

A racially diverse crowd came together Tuesday evening at Malcolm X Park, not far from the West Philadelphia neighborhood where Wallace was killed.

The gathering featured speeches and preceded a march, Philadelphia member station WHYY reported, adding that one speaker noted there were "far too many comfortable white people here tonight."

Wallace's father, Walter Wallace Sr., urged protesters not to turn violent.

"Stop this looting and stop and stop burning our city down," the elder Wallace told CNN.

"It's not going to solve anything," he said. "I don't want to leave a bad scar on my son and my family with this looting and chaos stuff."

Wallace's killing was captured oncellphone video and posted to social media, where it went viral.

The video sparked fresh outrage and a series of yet-to-be answered questions about why officers used deadly force during the encounter with Wallace.

Police said the officers have been placed on desk duty pending an investigation.

Family reportedly called for an ambulance, not police

Wallace was experiencing a psychological episode on Monday, an attorney for the family says. His mother tried to calm him but was unsuccessful and called for an ambulance, WHYY's Peter Crimmins reported.

But police arrived first.

According to Shaka Johnson, an attorney for the family, Wallace's wife told the officers when they arrived that her husband had bipolar disorder and urged the officers to stand down.

A police spokesperson said Monday that officers were responding to a report of a man with a knife.

They ordered Wallace to drop the weapon, saying that he "advanced towards officers."

Both officers fired their guns at Wallace. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.