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8:54 PM / Wednesday September 28, 2022

1 Jun 2020

Teargas used on Philadelphia crowds

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June 1, 2020 Category: Local Posted by:

Photo: Picture of police Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia at a May 30 peaceful protest/Andrea Lawful Sanders

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Officials in Philadelphia closed off much of the center of the city Sunday after peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death turned into a night of destruction with store windows smashed near City Hall, merchandise taken from stores and police and other vehicles and structures set afire.

But people were running into multiple stores in Northeast Philadelphia, well outside the city center, and emerging with merchandise as disorder continued for a second day elsewhere in the city. In West Philadelphia, a predominantly black neighborhood also far from the city center, police fired tear gas, people were seen running from at least one store with goods and other police cars were ablaze or otherwise damaged.

Video from the scene shows people smashing police car windows, rifling through the empty vehicles and pushing the cars into others.

Philadelphia’s managing director, Brian Abernathy, said there were five more police officers injured, many hit with bricks. There were at least 10 additional arrests Sunday, bringing the total to more than 200.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority shut down service entirely at 6 p.m. and will not resume until 6 a.m. Monday.

Downtown, business owners, workers and volunteers got to work sweeping up broken glass and boarding up broken windows even as people could still be seen emerging from broken-into stores carrying bags. Crews were also cleaning up anti-police and other graffiti scrawled on the walls of City Hall.

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Mayor Jim Kenney said the destruction in Center City “saddened and disappointed me beyond words, and I’m sure it saddened every Philadelphian who takes pride in their city.” He said those responsible “not only desecrated private businesses, they also desecrated the important message that was heard in the earlier peaceful protests.”

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, the first black woman to lead the department, said many of those responsible for injuries, vandalism and fires weren’t acting in alignment with the peaceful protesters but with the intent to destroy “and quite frankly, those folks didn’t look like me.”

“So to hold up a “Black Lives Matter” sign and then use the destruction that they were committing in the name of Black Lives Matter is not only a slap in the face but is completely a setback for everything that’s been accomplished by those who have been working to improve civil rights over the many many decades and those of us who are working internally to do our part to fix the issues within the criminal justice system,” she said.

Thirteen officers on Saturday were left with injuries such as chemical burns, broken extremities and head injuries, with one still hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle.

A 6 p.m. curfew was in effect until 6 a.m. Monday morning and retail establishments were ordered to close immediately ahead of the curfew.

WCAU-TV showed live aerial shots for more than an hour Sunday afternoon of people running from store to store in strip malls in northeast Philadelphia’s Port Richmond section, emerging with armfuls of merchandise as police units tried to keep up.

President Donald Trump tweeted later Sunday afternoon: “Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting the stores.” He called for the National Guard to be deployed.

Randy Padfield, director for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said earlier Sunday that the National Guard are on on standby if its assistance is needed.

Abernathy said the National Guard would be deployed to protect sensitive areas of the city, which would allow city police officers who are currently doing that to respond elsewhere.

The mayor said the city would accelerate plans to move a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo that was sprayed with graffiti Saturday by protesters who also tried to topple it and set a fire at its base. He said officials hoped to move it in “another month or so.” A few dozen city and state police lined up in front of the statue Sunday.

Rizzo, mayor from 1972 to 1980, was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities. His 10-foot-tall (3-meter-tall) bronze statue outside the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall, has been defaced before and was to be moved next year.

Similar protests, many of which began peacefully and turned violent late Saturday, have been happening throughout the country in response to Floyd’s death. Floyd, who was black, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.

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