Looting, originating in Center City and spreading to commercial areas throughout Philadelphia, was reported Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, after a judge dismissed charges in the murder case against former police officer Mark Dial.
Authorities said Wednesday that 52 people, including three under the age of 18, have been arrested in connection with more than 76 incidents that occurred overnight.
Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said the ransacking of businesses was unrelated to a protest at City Hall, which ended peacefully earlier in the evening.
“This had nothing to do with the protests,” he told reporters during a briefing late Tuesday. “What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists take advantage of a situation and make an attempt to destroy our city.”
The demonstration, in the City Hall area, wrapped up at around 7:30 p.m. without incident, Stanford said. Shortly before 8 p.m., officers noticed a large number of young people in Center City, followed by 911 reports of looting, he added.
Thieves targeted the Footlocker on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, the Lululemon on the 1700 block of Walnut Street and the Apple Store on the 1600 block of Walnut, among others, according to authorities.
Officers soon locked down Walnut and Chestnut between 14th and 18th streets, police said. Looters, possibly in a caravan of vehicles, spread out to other commercial strips, including Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond, said Stanford, who was appointed Friday following the resignation of Danielle Outlaw.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board shuttered 48 state-run liquor stores in the city and one in Montgomery County on Wednesday after looters targeted at least 18 locations, spokesperson Shaw Kelly said. No employees were injured, “although some were understandably shaken,” he added.
“We will reopen stores when it is safe to do so and when the damage is repaired,” Kelly said in a statement. “It is too early to tell how much was damaged or destroyed.”
In the Northeast, seven vehicles were reported stolen from a car lot, police said. Investigators have since recovered one of the vehicles, and another was spotted in North Philadelphia, according to authorities.
Detectives are looking through surveillance footage in an attempt to identify additional suspects, Stanford said.
Mayor Jim Kenney, in a Wednesday morning post on X, formerly Twitter, said his administration is working with the PPD to determine which areas may need increased police presence going forward.
“This was a sickening display of opportunistic criminal activity, and we will not stand for it,” Kenney said.
“There is no case to be made to condone or support looting that harms and interferes with law-abiding businesses attempting to operate safely in the City of Philadelphia,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said in a statement Wednesday. “We fully support the Philadelphia Police Department and its efforts last night and today to restore order and maintain public safety.”
Hours after Municipal Court Judge Wendy Pew threw out Dial’s case, prosecutors moved to appeal the decision and refile charges. Dial fatally shot 27-year-old Eddie “Junito” Irizarry Jr. during a traffic stop Aug. 14 in Kensington.
Dial’s partner, Officer Michael Morris, testified that he saw Irizarry holding a pocket knife in the moments prior to the shooting.