Walter Wallace, Jr., 27, was shot and killed Monday during a confrontation with police in West Philadelphia, triggering protests against racism in law enforcement and retaliation against the police.
The deceased had bipolar disorder and was in crisis, according to his family, who called several times for an ambulance. Instead, the police responded, family members told the media.
Two police officers responded and as Wallace approached them, they each fired seven shots. The victim’s family and protesters are questioning why the officers didn’t use their tasers or other non-lethal responses.
Wallace’s death has sparked another round of anti-police-brutality protests in Philadelphia and other major cities across the U.S., NBC Philadelphia reported.
So far, at least 30 Philadelphia cops have been injured during the protests over the police shooting of Wallace. Protesters torched squad cars and charged lines of officers. By early Tuesday morning, there had been at least 33 arrests on charges including rioting, assault on police officers, looting and possession of firearms, ABC News reported.
Videos show protesters storming the police and in one incident, hitting and injuring a female officer with a car. There is footage showing swarms of people chasing a large group of officers down the street, as well as a video of a line of officers behind shields being attacked with rocks, bottles, and garbage cans.
A police station was attacked with windows smashed and graffiti, including “ACAB” — short for “all cops are bastards” — according to CBS Philadelphia,
The protests, now in their third night, have evolved into looting. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris called for an end to the looting in a joint statement.
They said they reacted with “shock and grief … especially for a community that has already endured so much trauma” over the fatal shooting in West Philadelphia late Monday by two police officers.
Police say Wallace was carrying a knife. The two officers’ actions ignited hours of violent unrest and looting in Philadelphia.
In their statement, Biden and Harris evoked a Black Lives Matter sentiment. “Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost. We cannot accept that in this country a mental health crisis ends in death,” Biden and Harris said in the statement.
“It makes the shock and grief and violence of (Monday’s) shooting that much more painful, especially for a community that has already endured so much trauma. Walter Wallace’s life, like too many others, was a Black life that mattered.”
Then Biden and Harris addressed the protesting.
“No amount of anger at the very real injustices in our society excuses violence. Attacking police officers and vandalizing small businesses, which are already struggling during a pandemic, does not bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice. It hurts our fellow citizens. Looting is not a protest, it is a crime. It draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short,” Biden and Harris said. “As a nation, we are strong enough to both meet the challenges of real police reform, including implementing a national use of force standard and to maintain peace and security in our communities. That must be our American mission. That is how we will deliver real justice. All Donald Trump does is fan the flames of division in our society. He is incapable of doing the real work to bring people together. We will.”
Wallace’s father told CNN that he wants the protests to end. “All this violence and looting. I don’t want to leave a bad scar on my son and my family with this looting and chaos stuff,” Walter Wallace Sr. said. “So I want my son’s name and everybody to stop this. Give my son a chance. And the family like we’re decent people.”
“Everybody to have respect for our family, to pray for us. Cut it out,” Wallace Sr. added. “The looting is a mindset and it won’t bring my son back. It will escalate things to get worse instead of better.”
On Twitter, some people invoked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One user tweeted, “Abhorrent behavior. What does looting, burning, and destroying your city do other than affect lives whose property you destroyed? While they may have legitimate complaints this shouldn’t be the way to handle it. MLK did not condone such actions. He used peaceful protests!”
To which another user replied, “… and they still killed him. So please stop telling us what MLK would say or do.”
In response to Harris and Biden’s statement, a user tweeted, “Looting is protest. They need to stop lying. They can say its unlawful but to say it isn’t protest is a lie”.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
Some businesses have been looted but there have also been peaceful protests, CNN reported.
The officers’ names involved in the Wallace shooting have not been released. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said an investigation is underway, The New York Post reported.