Philadelphia police to boost response after shooting death of Black man sparks unrest

(Reuters) - Philadelphia will deploy additional police officers to the streets on Tuesday in anticipation of another night of unrest following the police shooting of a Black man they say was armed with a knife, the city's police commissioner said.

Protests erupted on Monday following the death of 27-year-old Walter Wallace, who died after being shot multiple times by two police officers who were instructing him to back off, a bystander's video shared on social media shows.

Thirty officers were injured during the protests, mainly due to being hit by bricks and other projectiles, commissioner Danielle Outlaw told a briefing, adding that one officer was run over by a truk and was being treated for a broken leg.

Outlaw said a total of 91 arrests have been made, including eight for assaulting officers and 76 for burglaries, and that the police presence would be beefed up in anticipation of continued unrest on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the video of the shooting presented "difficult questions" about the actions of the officers and that he understood the struggles of the Black community, who he said he suffered from systemic racism.

But he also expressed sympathy for the business owners whose shops were damaged and said the law would be enforced.

"Vandalism and looting is not an acceptable form of First Amendment expression," Kenney told the briefing, referring to the constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Video taken by a bystander and shared widely on social media showed Wallace approaching two police officers who drew their guns after warning him to put down the knife. The video shows the officers backing up, then cuts briefly from view as gunfire erupts and Wallace is shown slumping to the pavement.

The violence is the latest in months of anti-racism protests across the United States since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American, after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Since the incident in Minneapolis, demonstrators have turned out nationwide to demand racial equality and an end to police brutality, with protests sometimes turning violent.

Activist groups reiterated a demand to defund the police, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) saying state violence could not be the answer to society's problems.

"It is time to divest in police and invest in community programs, including the kind of mental health services that allow intervention that may have prevented Mr. Wallace's killing," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the Pennsylvania ACLU.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jonathan Oatis)

10/27/2020 18:37

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