Separate groups of protesters marched and gathered Fishtown police station Wednesday after days of unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody that was captured on video.
Minnesota authorities announced charges against the three other officers who took part in Floyd's arrest and watched as Derek Chauvin knelt on the Floyd's neck. And Chauvin's charge was upgraded from third-degree to second-degree murder.
The Philly protest groups, chanting "no justice, no peace" were seen at City Hall Rev. Mark Tyler of the Mother Bethel AME church was livestreaming a walk that had reached the museum. And The Temple News snapped a picture of a demonstration on North Broad Street:
A group later marched back from City Hall up toward Temple University.
In Fishtown, crowds formed around the 26th Police District on Girard Avenue in recent days, and again on Wednesday, after a group of men were seen out front with baseball bats, ostensibly to protect cops. City officials later stressed that they don't want to see "vigilante justice" on the streets.
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Images from SkyForce 10 showed protesters kneeling and sitting in front of the station.
The protests came in some calm hours before another round of possible severe weather, and after Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the National Guard would stay in the city, and increase their presence.
The troops were seen in recent days around City Hall and the Municipal Services Building as peaceful protesters and unrelated incidents of looting. The news that the National Guard would remain came after Kenney appeared to indicate in the morning that they might soon depart.
"What I wanted to say was I wish they could leave, but they can't. ... They'll leave when we no longer need them."
He said residents may notice more of a National Guard presence, especially at businesses and commercial areas. The guard had been seen outside the MSB and near the the statue of Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner and mayor.
Overnight, the statue was lifted out by crane and placed in storage. The statue of the controversial police commissioner was a target of protesters outraged over Floyd's death. The week has seen peaceful marches in the day followed by looting of stores at night by a separate group of mostly young city residents.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the arrest total is now 716, including:
- 490 curfew violations
- 290 for burglary or looting
- 12 assaults on cops
- 7 for theft
- 3 firearm violations
- 1 each for rioting, throwing an object, and vandalism
That total was expected to grow as some people were still being processed.
Despite a marked decline in incidents overnight, the city again instituted a curfew Wednesday. After 6 p.m., people could only leave their homes on essential business, to seek medical attention, or police assistance. A later curfew was in place Tuesday to allow for voters at the polls.
And Philly police will continue with looting patrols in each of the six police divisions, Outlaw said. Investigators are looking at surveillance videos to identify and charge looters and a group that has used explosive devices to destroy ATMs around the city - more than 135 explosive incidents have been reported in the past few days.
But rain didn't stop one group from gathering outside City Hall:
And Kenney would not promise that the city would move to the "yellow" phase of reopening from coronavirus lockdowns, though he said the case numbers were promising. He hinted at a concern that the virus could spread among protest crowds.
“I’m a little concerned with what may happen relative to 3, 4, 5,000 people close together without a mask for days on end," he said. "Hopefully we won’t see a spike, and we wish everybody good health, but everybody should wear a mask."
The marches Tuesday started with hundreds of people but gained momentum as they wound through the city, as some people left their homes to join in. NBC10 reporters and SkyForce 10 saw at least one arrest of a protester, but for the most part the lines of bike officers and patrol cars were along for the ride. It was a stark difference from Monday when tear gas and white smoke were used to disperse a crowd on Interstate 676.
Outlaw has since changed the department's use-of-force policy, adding a requirement that all uses of force be stated on police radio. And she will have to personally approve the use of less-than-lethal munitions like tear gas and rubber bullets. She previously said the decision to use tear gas on I-676 was made by an incident commander at the scene.