By Hannah McKay
Philadelphia police made significantly fewer arrests on Wednesday night compared to the prior two evenings, a sign that a citywide curfew helped curb the violence and looting that had marred protests over the police shooting of a Black man.
Police made 40 arrests, down from an average of 86 in each the past two nights, while four officers were injured, down from a combined total of 53 for Monday and Tuesday, according to a statement from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s office.
The streets of Pennsylvania’s largest city have been tense since Walter Wallace, 27, was gunned down on Monday by two police officers responding to what his relatives say was a call for assistance with a mental health crisis.
The curfew, which ran from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday, came after two nights of looting and periodic skirmishes between police in riot gear and protesters decrying the shooting as the latest instance of racially biased policing and excessive use of force against Black men.
To some extent, it appears to have had the desired effect.
A rally planned for Washington Square was called off after fewer than a dozen people turned out. A group of people were detained near a police station for curfew violations, but that came after several warnings and the arrests were uneventful.
Of the 40 arrests, four were for assaults on police officers and 29 related to burglaries, according to the statement. There were also 11 explosions of automatic teller machines, continuing a pattern seen in the prior two nights.
The turmoil over Wallace’s death has turned Philadelphia into the latest flashpoint over racial justice days ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election. It caps months of protests ignited by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, as he was pinned by his neck to the street under the knee of a white Minneapolis policeman.