Multiple Philadelphia stores were targeted during a seemingly premeditated looting spree following a judge dropping murder charges against a former police officer.
Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial fatally shot 27-year-old motorist Eddie Irizarry through a closed car window during a traffic stop in Kensington on Aug. 14.
As of the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 26, approximately 52 people between the ages of 18 and 22 were arrested in connection with the looting. Of those arrested, only three were juveniles. Prosecutors stated that most of the individuals were charged with burglary and theft, and one person was apprehended for illegal gun possession. Officers confiscated two firearms.
At approximately 8 p.m. in Center City, a large group of young adults looted stores, including Foot Locker, Lululemon, and the Apple store. Law enforcement apprehended nearly two dozen teenagers and at least one adult during the event.
Reports indicated that the looting also spread to the Northeast and certain areas of West Philadelphia. Stores in Roosevelt Mall, such as JD Sports, were left bare, with a sign beside the door that read, “closed until further notice.”
Fine Wine & Good Spirits announced the closure of all its stores on Wednesday after 18 locations were broken into.
The looters broke into businesses, damaging metal door protectors and using bolt cutters to break locks. During the spree, the looters stole electronics, footwear, apparel, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and various other items.
Community members questioned whether the motives had anything to do with the young man’s death.
“It’s just an excuse for them to act up. Like, it doesn’t make any sense. They’re tearing up the neighborhoods where we have to shop, and they have to shop too,” Jamal Howard of Olney said to ABC 6 News.
The police commissioner stated that the looting was unrelated to the peaceful protests that occurred after the court decision was announced.
There is evidence that the vandalism and looting were planned and organized on social media, according to the Inquirer, which found comments on Instagram pointing to that evening’s destruction.
“I know they say tearing up our stuff isn’t right, but that’s the only way they hear us,” one person wrote.
“WHAT TIME ARE WE GOING “SHOPPING”???” another asked, while someone else wrote, “Are we looting or not??!!”
Comments like these led the police to believe that some individuals took advantage of Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew’s decision to clear Dial, a former five-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department.
While some citizens engaged in peaceful protests following the judge’s ruling — such as one attended by approximately 100 people outside of City Hall on Tuesday evening — others were intent on stealing.
Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford emphasized during a press conference that the looting and the protests were unrelated, despite what some may claim.
“What we had tonight was a group of criminal opportunists taking advantage of a situation and attempting to destroy our city,” he said.
“This had nothing to do with the protests,” the commissioner declared.
Zoraida Garcia, Irizarry’s aunt, spoke out against the looting and the people destroying property, possibly harming others.
She said, “This is not going to bring justice to my family or bring my nephew back,” adding that their family “does not condone this type of behavior.”