After a second night in which hundreds of businesses in Philadelphia and even its suburbs were looted and burned, the Pennsylvania National Guard has been mobilized to control the riots.
The violence left around 30 officers injured in the wake of an officer-involved shooting death of a black man who threatened police with a knife.
Several hundred guardsmen are slated to be deployed within the next 24 to 48 hours, confirmed Lt. Col. Keith Hickox, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Hickox said the Guard will assist police in “protecting life, property, and the right to peacefully assemble and protest.” He said their role would be similar to the role played during the George Floyd protests and riots in Philadelphia earlier this year.
Pennsylvania National Guard “members are well-trained and well-prepared to assist the commonwealth and its communities in any way they can,” a spokesperson for Wolf told the paper.
The rioting could not come at worse time for Democrats attempting to convince suburban voters to back Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The two were criticized by President Donald Trump for waiting three months to denounce the riots and looting that occurred in cities after the death of George Floyd.
Polls have found that Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of the violence, looting and arson that spilled into suburbs. Support for the Black Lives Matter movement plummeted among all segments – including in minority communities – by the end of the summer.
The situation in Philadelphia shows that Democrat leaders, wary of next week’s election, are wary of images of cities burning as they work to convince voters they are in control.
“At the direction of Governor Wolf, and PEMA, the Pennsylvania National Guard is mobilizing several hundred members in support of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and assist local agencies in protecting life, property and the right to peacefully assemble and protest,” Hickox said in a longer statement on Tuesday afternoon. “Assisting civil authorities during times of need is one of our core missions in the National Guard and our Citizen Soldiers and Airmen are well-trained and well-prepared to assist our commonwealth and our communities in any way we can. We are able to conduct operations in support of civil authorities to enhance local law enforcement’s ability to provide continued public safety and critical infrastructure security.”
The Philadelphia Police Department will also increase its presence across the city, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said on Tuesday.
“For today and this evening, we anticipate the chance of additional incidents of civil unrest and, as such, we will be taking additional steps to ensure order,” Outlaw said.
The White House also confirmed it would provide “federal resources” in Philadelphia if needed.
At least 30 officers were injured, including one who was hospitalized, and about 90 people were arrested during the night of unrest, Outlaw said.
The unrest was sparked by the shooting death of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., who was brandishing a knife and wouldn’t put it down as he approached officers who had guns drawn, officials said.