For the first time in more than a week, Philadelphians were not under a curfew amid widespread but now largely peaceful protests against racism and police violence.
More demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death occurred Sunday, but city officials signaled there was no need for another curfew, after reporting no major incidents of violence the day prior, when thousands flooded the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Curfews were first imposed on residents last week, when a day of largely peaceful protests turned into a night of widespread looting. The National Guard was called in, but further demonstrations in recent days have been mostly nonviolent.
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The ACLU of Pennsylvania on Friday sent a letter to Mayor Jim Kenney and other officials questioning the continued need for curfews and positing that they were been put in place not to to quell “crime and disorder” but to stymie “overwhelmingly peaceful and orderly protest activity” guaranteed by the First Amendment.
“The Constitution does not permit the city to order such a sweeping restriction on free speech and travel across this vast city to address isolated attacks on property,” the ACLU wrote, noting that many of those affected by curfews are people of color doing essential jobs.
The city has not signaled when it might expect the National Guard to move out, though Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the soldiers are expected to remain in the city through at least next week.
The death of George Floyd, a black father killed when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd plead for breath, sparked nationwide and worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.