A lot of eyes have been on Philadelphia recently with the election as well as the Walter Wallace Jr protests.
On Oct.26,2020 Philadelphia police officers shot and killed 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. after getting a call about a man with a knife. Wallace was trying to cross the street while the police shot him several times and killed him. His father questioned why the police didn’t use a taser and also stated that his son had mental issues. His mother was trying to diffuse the situation by telling them to put the gun down and not to shoot. The video flooded the internet, and some found it very difficult to watch, especially for people who live with that fear on a daily basis.
After news of what happened came out, it caused a lot of tension for the people of Philadelphia. Protests began with an officer being struck by a pickup truck as well as 29 other officers hospitalized after being hit with objects like bricks and rocks. Multiple businesses were looted throughout the city. Five police vehicles were vandalized along with one from the fire department. An estimated one thousand people came out to protest the killing of Walter Wallace Jr.
“When we’re out here today, we want you to know that we’re coming from a place of love,” Christopher Bowman, a teacher in West Philadelphia and organizer of the group “I Will Breathe,” said. “We want the families in this neighborhood to feel safe. We don’t have to destroy what is already ours.”
Many residents came out to cheer on the protesters. Most of them were saddened about Walter Wallace’s death, saying it could’ve been handled differently.
“People are angry because they feel like nothing is changing,” Taylor Brady, junior business major, said. “This is how people are responding because they are tired of fighting and not seeing anything move in the right direction.”
For a few days straight, residents were told to stay indoors in West and North Philadelphia, Port Richmond, Kensington and Fishtown. There was also a curfew as well. People were lifting up the metal gates of stores for people to enter and leave. Many people left with boxes. Looting was seen in places such as Foot Locker, Walmart, and Target as well as fires burning in the middle of the street. Some people feel as if the looting is not helping and that they don’t want their city burned down.
“I understand that people are angry but some people are just looting to do it and forgetting about what the people are actually fighting for,” Ciani Young, senior nursing major, said. “If we don’t march for the right things, we will never be on the same page as each other.”
People feel that a light needs to be shined on these issues. That it is not just about race but healing and human lives. That is why people of all age groups, races, and ethnicities are coming out to protest. It is a way to come together to make a change.
“I believe the shooting of Walter Wallace shows that there is much work to be done in this changing country. The police must be trained and educated on these situations prior to further prevent any killings,” Jarren Abad, senior exercise science major, said.
People gathered at Malcolm X park for the protest, where there were Halloween prizes, giveaways and performances as well. Speakers spoke out about demands from the city, which included an end to the criminalization of Black resistance, the permanent removal of symbols of police and state violence, and an end to the presence of militarized police in Black communities, plus many other requests. To these people it is more than just protesting, it is about protecting the community as well.