Anger in Philadelphia – On the ground reporting for BUnow

PHILADELPHIA — On Saturday, May 30, protestors took to the streets of Philadelphia to protest the unjust murder of George Floyd, an African-American man who apparently died at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer. Originally meant to be a peaceful gathering at the Art Museum and Dilworth Plaza, the atmosphere heated up when individuals set cars on fire. Riot police were summoned and formed lines in front of the City Municipal Building, adjacent to City Hall. I found myself in the middle of the chaos, and here is my account.

BUnow Reporter Nicolas Bell on the scene at the 1500 Block of Chestnut Street, where a Footlocker and Five Below are being looted 

Tear gas was fired on rioters as law enforcement authorities attempted to disperse the protestors. Everywhere I looked, I saw people running out of stores with as much merchandise as they could carry. Despite the madness happening around me, there was this odd sense of solidarity on the streets. I didn’t feel threatened or in danger by the people, even though they were smashing glass and burning property. The looters who went into Wells Fargo got no money, but they were throwing papers around like candy and smashing computers. Shortly after this video was taken, Mayor Jim Kenney ordered a city-wide curfew order from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Looting seen at the King Of Prussia Mall in Montgomery County, Pa. Video courtesy of @phillly_scoophall on Instagram

Keep in mind, these protests/riots are going on during the age of COVID-19, and based on my observations, half the people were wearing masks and there was little to no attention paid to social distancing. Philadelphia and all of Southeastern Pennsylvania are currently in the red phase of the lockdown, meaning that only essential businesses can conduct their operations.

I saw a fair share of anarchists and demonstrators spray painting walls and businesses, with common phrases like “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bad), “1312 (ACAB),” “Justice 4 George Floyd,” the anarchy symbol and “F— The Police” to name a few.

Smoke from the rioting seen from Belmont Park in West Philadelphia

Smoke from the protests could be seen from miles away, as seen in the photo above. The distant sounds of police and fire sirens could be heard in conjunction with the buzzing of multiple helicopters hovering over the city to capture the civil unrest on video.

From left: Pennsylvania State Trooper and Philadelphia Police Department cruisers burned by rioters

The message is loud and clear with these protestors: there needs to be structural change in how we police minority communities. The U.S. is entering a critical moment in its history, with an ongoing pandemic and levels of political polarization never seen before. Curfew orders have been extended to Sunday night and Monday morning.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to BUnow.