- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday called for calm and sided with protesters after violence erupted in response to the fatal police shooting of a Black man who rushed officers with a knife.

“Last night we saw further evidence of the anguish of Black and brown residents of our city who have struggled their entire lives under systemic racism,” Mr. Kenney said at a press conference.

He said the police shooting was an example of how “our systems failed to protect Black men.”

A cellphone video of the incident shows Walter Wallace Jr.’s mother following him, pleading with him to drop the knife as he advanced on the police officers.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest Monday night after two officers fired 14 shots at Wallace, who died later at the hospital.

The demonstrations devolved into looting, arson and attacks on police, with one police officer intentionally struck by a speeding pickup truck. The officer suffered a broken leg and other injuries but was in stable condition Tuesday at the hospital.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, mobilized the state’s National Guard to quell rioting.

Philadelphia is the latest site of Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent in response to police shootings of Black Americans, which have spurred a national debate about race and policing.

City Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said 11 people were arrested for assaulting police and 76 for commercial burglary. More charges and arrests are pending, she said.

The mobs burned police cars and dumpsters, looted businesses and vandalized fire department vehicles.

“The criminal activity was not part of the protests and did not serve any legitimate purpose,” Commissioner Outlaw said at a press conference.

Many of the injured officers were struck with rocks and bricks thrown by demonstrators. Most had been treated and released from hospitals.

President Trump is prepared to deploy federal officers to Philadelphia to quell the rioting if necessary, said White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the police unit charged with investigating officer-involved shootings are probing the incident, city officials.

Both officers were wearing body cameras, but Commissioner Outlaw offered no timetable for when the video could be released.

The two officers were dispatched to a call about a man with a weapon in the city’s West Philadelphia neighborhood. Upon arrival, the officers were met with a man carrying a knife and ordered him to drop it multiple times. Wallace did not comply and advanced toward the officers with the knife in hand.

The officers fired at least 14 shots at him, hitting him in the shoulder and chest. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital a short time later.

The Philadelphia Police Union defended the two officers who shot Wallace, whose names have not been made public.

“We support and defend these officers as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting,” the union said.

The Republican Attorneys General Association said the rioting and looting that followed Wallace’s death has become a common occurrence in Democrat-led cities.

“The overnight violence in Philadelphia that injured 30 police officers is the entirely predictable outcome of an anti-police mayor, abetted by a state attorney general who will not step into the vacuum created by a failure to respect the public safety,” the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the nation’s largest police union slammed media coverage of the incident, saying several outlets were too sympathetic to Wallace and omitted key facts.

In a series of tweets, the National Fraternal Order of Police slammed CNN, ABC, NBC, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and BBC for failing to mention in their headlines that Wallace ran at the officers with a knife.

“The headlines fail to mention the key fact: the suspect ran at the officers, armed with a knife, while they attempted to retreat. They’re part of the problem and stoking tensions,” the FOP said of the media.

Mr. Kenney said he understood the outrage and urged protesters to remain peaceful.

“I know that many Philadelphians are feeling frustrated and outraged following yesterday’s tragic incident,” he said. “I fully support your First Amendment right to protest but we also want to make sure our communities are not further hurt as a result.”

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