News & Politics

'Looters Were Shooting Looters' -- Nearly a Dozen People Shot as Philly Riots Escalate

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Riots in Philadelphia over the shooting of a mentally ill black man by white police officers escalated last night as thousands of people took part in looting dozens of stores. Shots rang out in several locations, as one bystander claimed “Looters were shooting looters.”

Any legitimacy to the protest was destroyed by those bent on destruction. Realizing this, Walter Wallace, father of the man who was killed, made a plea for calm and an end to the violence.

Fox News:

“I don’t condone no violence tearing up the city, looting of the stores,” he told reporters. “I would feel like everybody having respect for my family and my son to stop this violence and chaos that’s going on in this city with people that have businesses.”

He asked people to stop the violence “to help my son and help my family.”

“That all I’m sending out is an SOS, to help, not to hurt and cause no chaos, violence, looting, firing,” Wallace Sr. continued. “I wasn’t brought up like this and I worked 33 years with the city, with the street department picking up trash to try to keep this city clean.”

It won’t do any good, if last night’s “peaceful protest” is any indication.

CNN:

Protests on Tuesday began as a large, peaceful march, but turned violent when the crowd came upon a group of police officers near Philadelphia Police 18th District.

Protesters set cars and dumpsters on fire, Outlaw said, and officers were hit with bricks and “something that appeared to be blood.” Police are also investigating reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown.

Twenty-three officers were injured responding to protests and looting incidents overnight, Outlaw said. All were treated and released from local hospitals.

Outlaw said 91 people were arrested, including 11 on charges of assaulting police and 76 for burglary.

Wallace was suffering from bipolar disorder and was supposed to be taking lithium, and had a violent criminal history. If he had deliberately gone off his meds, does that make him liable for whatever happened? We have got to stop feeling sorry for the mentally ill and start treating them as people. That includes holding them accountable for what they do on and off their medications.

It won’t happen, of course. The mentally ill are victims and must be coddled and cared for. If that’s going to be the case, we should have someone responsible for forcing them to take their medication. Society cannot afford these people running around threatening the lives of others simply because they’re not medicated.

No doubt some would see that attitude as inhuman. Not at all. This is a public health problem needing a public policy solution. Whether it’s arming mental health experts and sending them on a ride-along with police or giving better training to officers in how to handle situations like the one confronting the officers in the Walter Wallace incident, dealing with dangerous mentally ill people is a no-win situation for police and too often, ends in tragedy.

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