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Philadelphia lifts curfew after unrest over police killing

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Oct 30, 2020 - 12:33 PM

NEW YORK — Philadelphia’s mayor said Thursday a curfew he had put in effect the previous evening over unrest that followed the police killing of a Black man would not be maintained for a second night.

Mayor Jim Kenney nonetheless called on residents to stay home except in case of emergency.

“There will not be a citywide curfew this evening,” Kenney wrote on Twitter.

“However, we encourage residents to remain home, unless travel is necessary.”

The curfew had been in effect overnight in Pennsylvania’s largest city after unrest triggered by Monday’s fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace, which was captured on video posted to social media.

Thousands of people had taken to the streets, with looting and violence breaking out. Fifty-seven officers have been injured, one seriously, a police spokesman said.

The two days of unrest have also seen 210 arrests.

The city was calmer Wednesday night, AFP journalists reported, but a number of stores were still damaged or looted.

Police shot Wallace, who was carrying a knife, after he refused to drop the weapon as his mother tried to restrain him.

A lawyer for Wallace’s family, Shaka Johnson, said he was bipolar and the call to emergency services was for an ambulance.

Johnson also said police had fired 14 times when only once could have diffused the danger. Wallace’s father has asked why officers did not use stun guns instead.

The two officers, whose names have not been released, have been suspended.

Police and prosecutors are investigating the killing, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has pledged transparency.

Kenney said Thursday he hoped to soon make public footage from cameras worn by the police officers that could help clarify the circumstances of the shooting.

Johnson was quoted by local media saying that the footage, viewed by the family on Thursday, showed Wallace “in obvious mental health crisis” and family members yelling “he’s mental.”

According to the report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Johnson said one of the officers yelled “shoot him.”

Wallace’s death and the subsequent demonstrations and unrest have reignited a political clash between Republicans and Democrats days before the presidential election.

Pennsylvania is a key battleground state in the race between President Donald Trump, who has focused on the unrest to bolster his claims to be the “law-and-order” candidate, and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The US has seen waves of race-related protests and rioting since the police killing of African American George Floyd in May in Minnesota.

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