The National Guard is now in Philadelphia following days of unrest after 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was shot and killed by police on Monday. Some of them were stationed near City Hall and the Municipal Services Building.
While Philadelphia did not see looting Thursday night, the National Guard has been deployed to the city ahead of Election Day. There was another curfew tonight that went into effect at 9 p.m., but that’s not the main job of the National Guard.
They will be guarding buildings like City Hall which will give Philadelphia police the ability to carry out their normal law enforcement duties.
Three nights of looting has left parts of the city in shambles.
“We’re hoping their presence will have a level of calm and allows police to go out and fight crime and to arrest some of these people who are looting and destroying property,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
The National Guard arrived around noon. It’s not known how long exactly they will be here for.
“That is going to be a flexible, also day-by-day deployment, solely to provide safety to our neighborhoods,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.
With the election just around the corner, some people are happy to see the National Guard members.
“It’ll be nice to see us have peace,” said Rick Milkis of Northeast Philadelphia. “And I think we all need some peace around here.”
Meanwhile, city commissioners say the National Guard is not here because of the election, but officials admit order in the city is necessary to carry out a fair election.
“It’s paramount to democracy and here we are in Philadelphia, at the birthplace of our democracy. And we are working hard and we have in the past weeks and we’ll continue to work hard through Election Day to make sure that democracy is thriving through Election Day,” Philadelphia City Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Deeley said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is also working with city officials.
The citywide curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. and will last until 6 a.m. Saturday. During those hours, the city says people can only leave their homes to go to work or to get emergency or medical assistance.
Wallace Jr.was shot and killed by two Philadelphia officers after, police say, he walked toward them with a knife and refused to drop the weapon. His family says Wallace Jr. was having a mental health crisis.
The fatal shooting has been followed by ongoing unrest and protests. Over 50 police officers have been injured. A number of Philadelphia businesses have also been looted and vandalized throughout the week.
“We just boarded up our business. We have security,” said Tariq Maseeh, who owns Juniata Meats.
In his neighborhood and nearby Port Richmond, where widespread looting took place earlier this week during the unrest that followed the police killing of Wallace Jr., CBS3 found businesses, both big and small, boarded-up Friday but no National Guard members.
“I wish they can come on this side too, you know because we have businesses here,” Maseeh said. “Everybody pays taxes here. We need security too.”
Maseeh hopes it helps maintain the peace on this mischief night.
“Whatever is happening is not connected to us,” Maseeh said. “Businesses is totally separate than what is going on out there.”
The 911 calls and body camera footage of the shooting will be released next Wednesday.
SOURCE: CBS3 Philly – Matt Petrillo and Greg Argos