Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford said Tuesday night's looting had nothing to do with the peaceful protest that took place earlier after charges were dismissed against the officer who shot and killed Eddie Irizarry. Stanford argued the misfits just used the protest as an excuse to engage in criminal behavior. "This had nothing to do with the protests. What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists," Stanford said, adding that the police have made at least 20 arrests. By Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Jim Kenney told NBC10's Brian Sheehan that number had raised to 52 arrests "and counting."
The mayor said that the "destructive and illegal behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in the city," vowing to get the "criminals" to pay a price. "This is not shoplifting," the mayor said. "This is looting. This is riot."
Thank you to @PhillyPolice for their swift response to disperse crowds and make necessary arrests related to last night’s incidents.
This was a sickening display of opportunistic criminal activity, and we will not stand for it. https://t.co/r83gnayGi8
— Mayor Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) September 27, 2023
Some videos that spread on social media showed officers grabbing thieves, some of whom were wearing Halloween masks, as they ran rioting through a Lululemon store. A cop even managed to hit one of the looters with a punch after tackling them to the ground. The footage also showed bikes and piles of merchandise piled up on the sidewalk outside of the apparel store branch as officers arrived and started making arrests.
An earlier clip from the Apple store showed the aftermath of the looting, with iPhones and other electronic goods seemingly ripped from their display stands, and confused staff members can be seen standing around.
Fox News reporter Steve Keeley also shared footage showing the police placing handcuffs on one man, as they guard the exterior of the store. Numerous people can be heard shouting in the background as he is led to the rear of a police van. Another shot of looters outside the Lululemon store shows a large number of thieves making their escape as officers arrive on the scene.
Hakeem Russel, a security guard at a nearby Wendy's told NBC that the store next to the fast food restaurant had been broken into and a guard was assaulted. "A couple of kids decided they wanted to take full advantage of the unjust shooting that's happened. It's definitely been unrest around here since the verdict."
Officers blocked off several streets in the area with crime scene tape due to the robberies. The police said that there were no injuries reported and they are extending shifts for officers to make sure they were prepared for any issues through the weekend.
Dayjia Blackwell, 21, a woman who had been live streaming the chaos in the city onto her Instagram page under the user name "Meatball," was among those who were arrested. Prior to this, she was also sharing clips of the looting, seemingly encouraging the robberies. She was even shouting, "Everybody must eat! Everybody must eat!"
“Everybody must eat! Everybody must eat!” Philadelphia tonight. pic.twitter.com/hIZ5mio4Eo
— Catch Up (@CatchUpFeed) September 27, 2023
She was charged with burglary, conspiracy, criminal trespass, riot, criminal mischief, criminal use of a communication facility, receipt of stolen property, and disorderly conduct. "This person incited a lot of other individuals to do, at one point, what we know, is coordinating a caravan of individuals to go across the city, hitting multiple locations," said Stanford. Blackwell has since posted bail and is due back in court next month.
According to DailyMail.com, crime soared across Philadelphia with homelessness and drug use on the street becoming more prevalent. These social concerns create a bigger issue as those involved resort to petty theft as a way to find ways to sustain themselves or supply their addictions. (Related: Pandemic of retail THEFT: Democrat county supervisor now regrets stupidly backing a radical crime bill that legalized shoplifting in California.)
Retail giant Walmart, meanwhile, announced plans to reopen one of its branches in California, which closed down due to theft, shoplifting, and other fraudulent activities. However, this time, it is resuming operations with major upgrades and distinctive features such as a pharmacy, grocery store, and police station. Having a police substation in a Walmart branch is a first, but officials believe an increased police presence will help to prevent in-store crime to make shoppers feel safer. The substation will also feature a place for police to charge their phones and body cameras, as well as have meetings and file documents.
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