Philadelphia: Uprisings Demand Justice for Walter Wallace Jr.

By Nélida Tello

Rebellions have once again engulfed Philadelphia after the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, on Monday. Protesters rebelled demanding justice for Wallace for three consecutive days. In response, Mayor Jim Kenney issued a citywide curfew and deployed the National Guard.

The police murder of Wallace was captured on camera and subsequently went viral on social media. Two Philadelphia police officers responded to a call by Wallace’s family as the 27-year-old experienced a mental health crisis—they fired seven rounds each at Wallace, hitting him in the chest and shoulder as he held a knife. Witnesses have stated that police immediately drew their guns at the sight of Wallace.

Wallace’s father shared with ruling class news media outlet The Philadelphia Inquirer that the police did not take measures to deescalate the situation.

“Why didn’t they use a taser?” he said. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”

Walter Wallace Jr.

Wallace’s family had made three calls to authorities earlier in the day. Family lawyer Shaka Johnson stated that the first call was for a medical assistance and ambulance request; however it was police that responded. Wallace was an aspiring rapper and father of nine, with another child on the way.

Community members gathered at the scene after Wallace’s murder, confronting the police and demanding justice for his death. The night of the shooting, hundreds of protesters marched to the police station on 55th and Pine St. as well as throughout the West Philadelphia area.

The uprisings lasted for three consecutive days, during which 57 police officers were injured, one officer was run over by a car, and six police vehicles were vandalized, with one being set aflame and completely destroyed. Multiple stores were expropriated during the uprisings and 212 arrests were made on charges of burglary and assault on police.

Quan, a West Philadelphia resident, explained the looting: “Nothing is really getting done [through voting]. They stalling, so if I’m hungry right? And you tell me I got to wait to eat, I’m going to find something to eat!”

Tuesday night’s protest ended with a large fire blocking off a Philadelphia street, where signs promoting the electoral farce with the words, “Make a Plan – Vote,” were used as kindling.

The latest uprisings in Philadelphia follow five months of consistent nationwide protests against police violence in support of the movement for Black lives, first sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in late May. The oppression and exploitation of Black people in the US will not end by casting ballots or petitioning for reforms—it must be continued to be fought for and incorporated into the workers’ struggle against imperialism.

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