PHILADELPHIA - National unrest in the police custody death of Minneapolis man George Floyd continued in Philadelphia on Saturday, as crowds gathered to demonstrate in various parts of the city.
Demonstrations began in the afternoon at City Hall, where an estimated 500 people gathered for the Justice for George Floyd event. They later marched to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"We’re congregating (while strictly following social distancing) to remember the lives of all those lost to police brutality by taking a knee." protest organizers wrote on the official event's Facebook page. "We will also demand an independent and anonymous citizens’ review board & body cameras for ALL police officers"
Separate protests began to turn unruly in the late afternoon hours. Crowds converged at the corner of Broad Street and Vine Street. SKYFOX was over the scene where a state police cruiser was engulfed in flames.
Nearby, a large group of protestors attempted to topple the often vandalized statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo. Prior to his mayoral tenure from 1972-1980, Rizzo served as police commissioner. As a city official, Rizzo forged a volatile relationship with the African-American community.
Police and protestors briefly scuffled outside the Municipal Services Building. Protesters were seen throwing bottles and using a fence to try and push through the police line. Officers with riot shields, helmets and batons managed to move the crowd backward.
As afternoon turned to night, protestors grew more disorderly. Several vehicles, including police cruisers, were torched near City Hall. Others were flipped over and vandalized with graffiti.
Governor Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney each released statements on Saturday which urged protestors to remain peaceful as they demonstrate.
"Everyone should speak out because no one should be at risk of harm because of oppression or racism," Wolf said. "As Pennsylvanians protest, I urge everyone involved to be peaceful and to keep each other safe."
"The anger being displayed now cannot continue. Please have respect and dignity for each other and return home," Kenney said.
The first reports of looting began just before sundown. FOX 29's Brad Sattin was outside a Foot Locker in Center City that had been torn into by rioters. Neighboring businesses were also burglarized including a Modell's Sporting Goods and an H&M. The police force stretched thin by ongoing turmoil elsewhere in the city was not immediately on the scene.
Mayor Jim Kenney implemented a mandatory city-wide curfew that went into effect at 8 p.m. Saturday night. It will reportedly remain in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday and kick back into effect at 8 p.m.
During a Saturday night press conference, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw reported thirteen officers were injured during Saturday afternoon's protests. 14 people have been arrested and several have been injured at this point.
It has been less than one full week since George Floyd's violent death on May 25, which has sparked a nationwide movement in response to the viral footage of the police brutality that arguably led to Floyd's death.
Impassioned citizens took to the streets in Minneapolis, where the incident originated, and dozens of other US cities in a show of looting and violence.
Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kenney addressed the current outrage in the aftermath of George Floyd's death at the hands of police during a press conference Friday.
In part, Mayor Kenny said:
"Black Americans are outraged as they should be. I'm outraged too. As a white man I will never know the heartbreak and trauma the black community continues to experience. But I want black Philadelphians to know that I and other city leaders stand with them and am here to support them during this painful time. They should not have to bear witness to yet another killing of an unarmed black person.You should not have to feel as though scoiety believes your lives are less valuable than white people. And you should not fear for your lives or your loved ones when simply stepping outside the house."
The full report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner remains pending, but preliminary findings from George Floyd’s autopsy revealed he likely died from a combination of underlying health conditions.
Any potential intoxicants in his system and being restrained by police were also attributed in the preliminary medically forensic investigation into the cause of his death, according to the charges. There was no physical evidence that he died of asphyxia of strangulation.
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” the charges say.
Floyd's underlying health conditions included coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.
Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was formally charged Friday in the death of George Floyd, but many citizens say that the other officers involved need to be arrested and that Floyd's death deserves meaningful change to policing practices in the United States.
Chauvin was seen in a video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeatedly says “I can’t breathe.” The officer continued to press his knee onto Floyd’s neck even after he lost consciousness. None of the other officers at the scene attempted to check on Floyd until after the ambulance arrived, despite bystanders’ pleas.
So far, he has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
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