Philadelphia

At Least 9 Fires Set, 109 Arrested as Shops Are Looted in Philly Protests

Cars were flipped over, windows were broken and the city was locked down while police went after looters and fires were put out

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Groups of people looted stores in Center City Philadelphia Saturday night, leaving behind broken windows, sidewalks strewn with merchandise and at least three large fires after the situation in the city changed drastically from the day's mostly peaceful protests over a black man's death in police custody.

By midnight, most of the looting seemed to have stopped, though some more isolated incidents were still happening as police tried to urge people to drop any merchandise. Officials asked everyone to stay home, and Gov. Tom Wolf indicated that the state National Guard was ready to assist if needed.

Starting at about 8 p.m., at least nine fires were set, including to four police vehicles and a Vans store.

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A day that began with peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody devolved into violence and looting Saturday. Walnut Street was left a mess and on fire. NBC10's Aaron Baskerville reports.

The city instituted a curfew Saturday night until 6 a.m. Sunday as people continued to loot stores downtown, with the bulk of the damage around Walnut and Chestnut streets.

By daybreak Sunday, at least 109 people had been arrested, most for violating the curfew but many for looting and at least one for assaulting a police officer. As some cleaned up the debris left behind, others continued to loot in broad daylight.

The curfew will again take effect at 8 p.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday.

Under the curfew, only workers or people in need of medical attention or police assistance are permitted to leave home. The city lockdown followed a violent, chaotic shift in tone after peaceful protests with more than 3,000 demonstrators kneeling in silence this afternoon in light of George Floyd's death this week in Minneapolis.

In a news conference, Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw confirmed that stores were being looted and at least 13 police officers were injured during the day. Seven suffered chemical burns to their faces, two had head injuries, and four had hurt limbs.

She stressed a need for "peace, calm and order."

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Later in the night, one bike patrol officer trying to stop a looter was hit by an SUV near 7th and Chestnut streets. The officer was alert and talking when transported to a hospital, police said on Twitter.

“The anger being displayed now cannot and will not continue," Mayor Jim Kenney said at the news conference.

More than a dozen Philadelphia police officers were injured as were an unknown number of civilians after peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent Saturday.

In Center City shopping areas along Chestnut and Walnut streets, the ground was strewn with trash as people broke into and looted stores including a Foot Locker and Apple, a T-Mobile store and DiBruno Bros. Buildings around Center City were spraypainted.

Alarms from the damaged buildings could be heard ringing along the street as some in the crowd threw bottles and other objects at the police.

As police pushed him and others back, one man spoke in an impassioned voice about the racial disparity in America.

“The country needs to see this. I’m telling you, you’re going to have to extract something deeper,” he shouted. “This is the pain that’s been taking place for how long? For how long? For how long?” he asked, backpedaling and raising his hands as an officer raised a nightstick across his chest. “This is why people are angry,” the man wailed.

The protests also closed I-76 causing a traffic backup, but the highway opened back up ater 8 p.m.

Around 5 p.m., some windows were broken at City Hall. And a group of protesters tried to knock down the statue of Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner and mayor. Rizzo's critics, many of them people of color, recall his approach to policing and governing as corrupt and racist.

The South Philadelphia native served as mayor from 1972 to 1980 and is remembered by supporters as a devoted, outspoken public servant who championed the city.

In that area near the statue, police were also seen pepper spraying a group of protesters who were climbing onto an armored truck near the building. And a group of people broke glass at a TD Bank.

Gov. Tom Wolf, in a statement later Saturday, said "I urge everyone involved to be peaceful and to keep each other safe." Before midnight, Wolf condemned looters and gave a proclamation authorizing the state National Guard to get ready in case they are needed.

Mayor Jim Kenney also weighed in:

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people gathered around Philadelphia City Hall and the Museum of Art Saturday afternoon to begin one of many nationwide demonstrations against police violence following the death of Floyd.

The demonstrators, most of whom wore masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, began by kneeling in silence, a reference to the way Floyd died.

The demonstrators at Philadelphia City Hall later joined others at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, shouting, "No justice, no peace" as they marched.

The crowd swelled at the steps of the art museum as people chanted Floyd's name.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests this week after bystander video captured Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyds neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd, who is black, said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was also handcuffed at the time.

Chauvin and three other officers who witnessed the arrest were fired, while Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder in connection to Floyd's death.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Philadelphia City Hall and the Museum of Art on Saturday afternoon as part of the ongoing protests against the death of George Floyd.
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