Tension gripped the streets of Philadelphia for a second night on Tuesday following a deadly police shooting of a Black man armed with a knife and described by relatives as suffering from a mental breakdown.
Violent unrest and looting followed in the West Philadelphia neighbourhood near where 27-year-old Walter Wallace was gunned down on Monday, as hundreds of demonstrators marched once again demanding racial justice.
The latest upheavals erupted hours after a bystander’s video footage was posted on social media on Monday, showing two officers opening fire on Wallace after he failed to heed their orders to back off and to drop the knife he was holding.
Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder, and his psychological difficulties were relayed by his wife to the officers who encountered him before the shooting, a lawyer for his family said.
The encounter transformed Philadelphia into the latest flashpoint in a months-long series of protests across the United States.
Rallies began peacefully but grew more confrontational as darkness fell, and police turned out in force to cordon off a section of the city’s 52nd Street commercial district lined with shops that were looted the previous night.
Tuesday’s clashes appeared for the most part smaller in scale and intensity than those on Monday, when orderly demonstrations gave way to violence that left 30 officers injured and led to more than 90 arrests.
Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, mobilised the Pennsylvania National Guard on Tuesday to assist law enforcement and city emergency management officials in maintaining order, a spokesman for the National Guard said in a statement.