National Guard arrives in Philadelphia to help maintain peace following unrest, looting

The Pennsylvania National Guard arrived in Philadelphia on Friday morning to help state and local law enforcement agencies maintain peace following looting and unrest sparked by the officer-involved shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered several hundred National Guard service members to Philadelphia on Tuesday to assist the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Hordes of armor-clad Pennsylvania State Police troopers and dozens of police vehicles were seen near the Municipal Services Building in Center City overnight. The heavy police presence was accompanied by road closures near city hall which have since been lifted.

FOX 29's Steve Keeley was outside the Municipal Services Building when troopers packed onto a SEPTA bus and were dispatched across the city. By Friday morning, state and local patrol cars were seen on virtually every block in Center City protecting boarded-up business that closed in fear of looting and rioting.

Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (PSTA) President David Kennedy on Friday released a statement on the police shooting death of Wallace. Kennedy called on the state to take a "hard look" at how it handles mental illness, which he said impacts roughly one-third of the state's inmates.

"We must collectively turn our attention toward mental illness. We need state legislators who understand this crisis now more than ever," Kennedy said. "The PSTA is ready to work with legislators who understand that we need to work together to come up with solutions that will save lives, rather than fan the flames of discontent toward law enforcement. We should all be on the same side."

Demonstrations began in Philadelphia on Monday evening after two officers shot and killed 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. on the 6100 block of Locust Street. Officers responded to the West Philadelphia address and were met by Wallace who police say refused to drop a knife. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. 

The family of Wallace Jr. has since argued that their son was having a mental health crisis and required medical attention instead of police intervention. Protests soon turned violent in the wake of Wallace's death as dozens of officers were injured and police cars were set on fire.

Looting and rioting became more prevalent during the second night of unrest as businesses in Port Richmond were ransacked and destroyed. Philadelphia police on Thursday said 212 people have been arrested during the widespread unrest across the city, including 40 arrests for burglary on Wednesday alone. The violence caused Philadelphia leaders to enact a curfew Wednesday night to Thursday morning.


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