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27 Oct, 2020 22:42

Pennsylvania National Guard deployed to Philadelphia after night of riots, looting & ATM explosions

Pennsylvania National Guard deployed to Philadelphia after night of riots, looting & ATM explosions

Several hundred troops from the Pennsylvania National Guard have been mobilized in Philadelphia following a night of violent unrest over a fatal police shooting, as city officials predict another bout of rioting.

Governor Tom Wolf directed the state’s National Guard to deploy to assist local law enforcement “in protecting life, property and the right to peacefully assemble and protest,” public affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Keith Hickox said in a statement, giving no specifics for the number of troops mobilized.

The deployment comes after a chaotic night of protests and rioting in Philadelphia over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man officers claim was armed during the encounter. The ensuing unrest saw looting, vandalism – including a wave of ATM bombings – clashes with law enforcement that left dozens of officers injured and acts of arson around the city, which continued into Tuesday morning.

“We were hoping that we won't have any repeat of what we've seen last night and we're taking every precaution that we can,” Philadelphia’s Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney said after the Guard deployment was announced.

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While police commissioner Danielle Outlaw warned of “additional incidents of civil unrest” by Tuesday night, Hickox said the Guard troops would arrive in the city in the next 24 to 48 hours, suggesting the deployment may not arrive in time to preempt a second round of rioting.

Outlaw said police were staging at “key locations” around the city to respond to any reports of violence. Aerial footage taken on Tuesday afternoon showed a heavy police presence in one intersection, with many officers clad in riot helmets.

Monday night’s unrest saw 91 people arrested and left some 30 police officers injured from rocks and other projectiles, as well as another who was “intentionally run over,” according to the Philadelphia Police Department. The apparent vehicle attack was captured on video, which shows a black pick-up truck speeding through a line of officers in the road, leaving a female officer with a broken leg, local media reported.

A series of automated teller machines – up to 10, according to local reports – were also destroyed during the rioting, most of them blown open with explosives. It is not clear if any cash was taken in the apparent smash-and-grab operations, and no injuries were reported in the blasts. Explosive devices were also reportedly used to attempt to gain entry to at least one building.

Wallace was shot and killed by Philadelphia officers on Monday afternoon after police responded to a call about a man with a knife. Upon arriving at the scene, police claim Wallace was “brandishing” a blade and “waiving it erratically,” with footage of the incident showing the man walking toward officers with their guns drawn as they shout “put the knife down.” He was struck in the shoulder in chest in a volley of gunfire and later died in the hospital from his injuries.

According to the suspect’s father, Wallace struggled with mental health problems and was on medication. “He has mental issues,” said Walter Wallace Sr. “Why you have to gun him down?”

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