Here it is Wednesday evening and the city of Philadelphia has announced a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Looks like Black Friday shopping on Aramingo Avenue

No, it’s not because of a hurricane or blizzard. It’s because of another “natural” disaster — a fraction of our citizens who believe they are free to maurade, and the helplessness of our city “leaders” to stop them. That sends a message. 

The excuse for the looting this time is poor Walter Wallace Jr., a “family man” and “aspiring rapper” as the Inquirer says, or a career criminal who had threatened his mother, as his rap sheet says.

He had mental problems. In his frequent run-ins with the law, some judges recommended mental treatment. So far, there is no report that he received it. That sends a message. 

And there was no police protection Tuesday night as Fox 29’s Steve Keeley reported that police were ordered to not arrest looters. Action News carried footage of cars pulling into parking lots on Aramingo and looters carrying out cases of stolen merchandise.

The people who blew up at least 20 ATMs were not seeking justice for the shooting, which is being investigated. The cops are reviewing body cam footage, which should be immediately released by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. Added to the video shot by witnesses, it will make a complete record.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the 52nd street corridor was looted — again.

Stores along Aramingo Avenue were looted — again. These stores are miles from where Wallace was shot in West Philly’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood.

This morning I noticed wood sheeting going up on stores on Walnut Street in Center City, stores that were looted after the death of George Floyd in the spring. Stores that received no police protection.

And there was no police protection Tuesday night as Fox 29’s Steve Keeley reported that police were ordered to not arrest looters. Action News carried footage of cars pulling into parking lots on Aramingo and looters carrying out cases of stolen merchandise. It almost looked like Black Friday. 

The convenience store next to my Center City condo was looted by about 30 “youths,” and for the first time, my condo council has hired security guards to protect the building, and has warned residents to take care on the streets. Our building is on lockdown after dark.

What is this — Chechnya? The curfew punishes innocent citizens. Is this the best the city can come up with? 

The Wallace family, to its credit, has repeatedly asked for no riots and no looting as that disrespects the victim. The looters don’t care because they have no regard for him. Ask them to remember his name and they reply “Foot Locker,” “CVS,” “Apple.”

And the city lets them get away with it.

The Wallace family has repeatedly asked for no riots and no looting as that disrespects the victim.

I hate to say it, and some of you will go batshit to hear it, but, no, Frank Rizzo would never have run up the white flag of surrender to those he called “crimnals.”

I don’t know what desk Mayor Jim Kenney is hiding under or how he can justify his inaction. The first responsibility of government is to protect the citizens, and he is failing.

After the spring George Floyd debacle, he dropped charges against the few accused rioters the cops were able to collar. I guess he wanted to beat D.A. Larry Krasner to the punch.

You can’t arrest them all, when there are hundreds, of them, but you can arrest some, and that sends a message to the other thieves, who will scatter. Then you prosecute and incarcerate. That sends a message. 

For some three months more than 100 trespassers occupied the Parkway and ignored city orders to disperse. They finally agreed to leave a week ago and a few remained even this morning. This was after Kenney paid their ransom demand. The message was sent: The mayor can be rolled. 

The law seems to mean little to a slice of our citizenry.

What that says to the other 98% of us is this: Arm up. You are on your own.

Yes, I know of the “philosophy” of the top cop that making arrests makes things worse.

When you surrender the streets to the rabble, how can it get much worse?

Stu Bykofsky was a columnist for decades at the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer until his retirement in 2019.

A version of this piece originally ran on the Stu Bykofsky blog. See the original here.

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