Written by Nolan Alisago (News Writer)
The Philadelphia police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. during a mental health crisis has melted into election protests in the swing state of Pennsylvania, as demonstrations continue through the election. Although the city made changes to policing policy after being exposed for using violent and dangerous tactics against non-violent protesters, protesters and city leadership agree it is clear more needs to change.
According to his family, Walter Wallace was bipolar and had a long history of mental health issues. A viral video was released on the internet showing the killing, and now the police body camera footage showed the tragic events. When police arrived at the scene Mr. Wallace was in the middle of a mental health crisis and wielding a knife as his mother desperately tried to deescalate the situation. Within a minute of the police arrived he was shot and killed. The emotional impact of seeing a mother scream and cry “You killed my son!” while hitting the officer who shot him was key in sparking the passionate protests. Walter Wallace’s death showed something was clearly missing in the police’s ability to respond to sensitive situations, with the most common solution by protesters being transferring funds from the police to social workers. Although the city mayor was responsive to protests, frustration quickly turned to more violent forms of demonstration. As the protest began to bend into riots the city council imposed a curfew and called in the National Guard. Yet, just as the fringes of protest deteriorated into looting and rioting, the core of the protest quickly evolved into something else. Activists protesting police brutality switched focus as they began to counter demonstrate against Trump protestors who were advocating to stop vote counting.
One particular instance of post-election unrest resolved itself in the most spectacular way possible. Trump protestors gathered outside a convention center where votes were being counted. As Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania grew to an insurmountable amount, Biden supporters began to show out in droves. Eventually, the Trump Supporters were outnumbered 8:1. Yet tensions did not last long, as Biden supporters brought out large speakers, and transformed the protest into a massive dance party. Although Biden’s victory had yet to be declared, the city of Philadelphia, which was recently locked down in fear of mass rioting, had quickly turned to a place of mass celebration.