Socialist Worker

Philadelphia revolts against racism after police killing of black man

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2729

Fury at police killings on the streets of Philadelphia

Fury at police killings on the streets of Philadelphia (Pic: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)


The city of Philadelphia in the United States has seen two days of militant mass protests after the police shot and killed Walter Wallace, a 27 year old black man on Monday.

It’s erupted into scenes of revolt on the eve of the US election in a key battleground state.

Protesters chanted Walter Wallace’s name and threw rocks, light bulbs and bricks at the police.

At the request of state and city officials, a deployment of several hundred officers from the Pennsylvania National Guard is due to begin policing the streets on Friday.

The latest explosion of fury comes after six months of protracted demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd and as part of the wider Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Some 91 people were arrested on Tuesday, businesses were broken into and five police vehicles destroyed.

Walter Wallace’s mother told the cops that he suffered from mental health problems. Yet they still shot him multiple times and he died shortly after being driven to a hospital in a police cruiser.

Rodney Everett, his uncle, said Walter was a “good-natured person.”

“I’m just disappointed that his life ended like it has. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s right at all. I don’t think they did any justice,” he said.

“This has got to stop.”

It’s likely further repression is to come—the city is now under a 9pm curfew.

Rage

Protesters are taking to the streets in a cry of rage against a system that allows white cops to kill black men.

And they are being badly let down by their elected representatives. Philadelphia Democrat mayor Jim Kenney said, the video of the shooting, “presents difficult questions that must be answered.”

Although he acknowledged that black people lived under “systematic racism” he tweeted out for a “shared call for peace in Philadelphia”.

It’s this type of mealy-mouthed response that has helped drive the BLM movement which has been one of the defining issues in US society.

The officers involved in the shooting haven’t been sacked or even suspended—they’ve been put on desk duty pending an investigation.

And the police union defended its members, saying they were “vilified for doing their job and keeping the community safe”.

John McNesby from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 claimed that the cops “are traumatised by being involved in a fatal shooting”.

A White House spokesperson issued a statement defending the cops. “We can never allow mob rule.”

US election—an American horror story
US election—an American horror story
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“The Trump administration stands proudly with law enforcement, and stands ready, upon request, to deploy any and all Federal resources to end these riots,” it said.

Trump himself was even more vicious.

On Wednesday he spoke at an election rally in Arizona and said Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden was to blame.

“Last night, the city of Philadelphia was ransacked by violent mobs and Biden-supported people.

"These were all Biden-supported people, and he wouldn’t even call them out,” he said.

But Biden ran from any possible identification with BLM protesters. He was asked on Wednesday what he would say to Philadelphia protesters.

“What I say is that there is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence. None whatsoever,” he replied.

Trump won the state of Pennsylvania in 2016, and has been pushing himself forward as the “law and order” candidate who can keep the state’s residents safe.

But it’s the movement holding trigger-happy, racist police to account that will protect people from further violence—not Trump, Biden or the system they represent.


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