The Official Word on the “Disgusting” Philadelphia Looting

"These were not protesters," insisted the interim police commissioner. "These were criminals."

Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford addressing the looting that occurred in Philadelphia on Tuesday night

Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford addressing the looting that occurred in Philadelphia on Tuesday night (image courtesy 6ABC)

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The Official Word on the “Disgusting” Philadelphia Looting

[Ed. Note: This is a developing story and may be updated at any time.]

It was just after 8 p.m. when my phone started blowing up. People were wondering what was happening in Center City. Friends were sending me videos of police scrambling en masse near City Hall. And soon, others were sending links to videos of major Center City streets shut down by police. Here’s one from our friend HughE Dillon at Philly Chit Chat:

By now, you probably know what all of this was about: looting. The scenes were reminiscent — though much smaller in scale — of some of the looting we witnessed in the city in 2020.

There are lots of rumors and unconfirmed anecdotes floating around on social media. But here’s what we know right now, based on information provided by the Philadelphia Police Department on Wednesday morning.

Just before 8 p.m., police, who were already on high alert following a judge’s decision to toss the charges against the cop who killed Eddie Irizarry (more on that below), observed a sharp increase in the number of teens in major commercial corridors in Center City.

Cops engaged a group of masked males dressed in all black at 17th and Chestnut streets. And while the officers were questioning the group, 911 calls began pouring in that there were big problems at the Foot Locker store just two blocks away on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street.

Police dashed over to the Foot Locker, arriving at 7:58 p.m. By the time they got there, the store had been ransacked. The number of arrests at the Foot Locker isn’t exactly clear. But what we do know is that at least one adult was taken into custody on the scene.

By 8:12 p.m., police were rushing to Lululemon on the 1700 block of Walnut Street to investigate reports of looting there. And, indeed, police found a similar scene to the one at Foot Locker and were able to apprehend multiple suspects.

Just minutes later, police learned of looting at the Apple Store on the 1600 block of Walnut Street. They weren’t able to make any looting arrests at that scene. But police did recover many stolen iPhones and iPads, some of which were just tossed into the street.

At that point, police took measures to lock down Walnut Street between Broad Street and 18th Street. That happened around 8:40 p.m. And then they locked down the corresponding section of Chestnut Street, starting around 9:10 p.m.

Police are continuing to investigate these incidents as well as reports of looting and vandalism in other Philadelphia neighborhoods, including in Frankford, Port Richmond and West Philadelphia.

At a press conference on Tuesday night, interim Philadelphia police commissioner John Stanford, who is less than a week into the job, called the looters and the looting “disgusting,” going on to say that this type of behavior “has no space in this city” and that Philadelphia “can’t afford this type of nonsense.”

One police source speaking on background Wednesday told Philly Mag there had been “dozens” of arrests. Final numbers were still being tallied. Stanford said that police are combing through video of looting suspects from last night and promised, “We’re gonna lock them up.”

One person arrested was Philly social media influencer Meatball. For more on her, go here.

Judge Throws Out Charges Against Cop Who Killed Eddie Irizarry

We all saw the video of Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial shooting and killing Eddie Irizarry through Irizarry’s car window back in August during a traffic stop.

Originally, police said that Irizarry had “lunged at the officers” while outside of his car, resulting in Dial shooting and killing him. But that turned out to be completely false. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner filed charges — including murder charges — against Dial. And on Tuesday, a Philadelphia judge threw out those charges, finding that the prosecution hadn’t met the burden required to proceed. Dial’s attorney had argued that his client had acted in self-defense, believing that Irizarry had a gun, which he provably did not. (As one of her final acts as Philadelphia police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw fired Dial.)

Later on Tuesday, protesters gathered near City Hall to voice their outrage over this decision. So was the above looting part of the protest? Stanford says absolutely not. “These were not protesters,” he told reporters of the looters on Tuesday night. “These were criminals.” Stanford said that the protest was peaceful and ended not long after 7 p.m. And then? “Criminal opportunists took advantage of the situation.”

Krasner is refiling charges against Dial. So this saga is far from over.

Local Talent

Congrats to CAPA and Masterman alum Leslie Odom Jr., who tonight opens his first Broadway play since Hamilton. You can read all about that show as well as Odom’s upcoming Exorcist sequel in our interview with him from our September issue.

Congrats are also in order for Philly expat Ayana Mathis, who released her second novel last night. Mathis made a big splash about a decade ago with The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Now, she’s back with The Unsettled, part of which is set in 1980s Philadelphia. The plot is inspired, in part, by MOVE. You can read the New York Times review here. Or just buy the book!

Reader Mail

Earlier this week, I explored the accusation that the University of Pennsylvania had banned Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters from speaking at a Palestinian cultural event on campus over the weekend. (Long story short: Penn says it didn’t ban him and he wound up appearing virtually from a desk at Philadelphia International Airport.)

Well, Jodi from Boston took issue with my entire approach to that article:

Dear Victor,

Your article about Roger Waters from Philly magazine completely glosses over the line up of speakers at this conference who have a long and robust history of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideology and commentary. That your article merely focuses on whether or not Roger Waters was allowed on campus is so insulting to people of Jewish faith who are left to deal with anti-semitism as an acceptable stance. The more important question here should be “why was Roger Waters invited to be part of a Palestinian literature festival?” That is the story. The answer is quite obvious — so he could spread his messages of Jewish and Israel hate.

U Penn is complicit in allowing Jew hate to be acceptable and allowable in a public forum on their campus. Why is Jew hate acceptable in any public setting and on a college campus? Why were so many of the speakers at this festival on record as spreaders of hate against Israel and the Jewish people? Why is rising anti-semitism in the US not being acknowledged? If Roger Waters was a known and vocal racist against other marginalized groups there is no way he’d be setting foot on Penn’s campus and invited to participate in a literature festival either virtually or in person. That is what Philly Magazine should focus on.

By the Numbers

14: Prison escapes in Pennsylvania in the past eight years, according to this report that counters the idea (spawned by recent events, of course) that prison escapes are a frequent problem in the state.

14.7 percent: Astronomical interest rate this Penn State student has to pay on her college loans — loans that have been on the back burner for a bit for her and other college students in the country thanks to a COVID-induced freeze on repayment requirements. Alas, that freeze ends in October.

22: Philadelphia-area Rite Aid stores that have closed in the past year, and more closures could be on the way thanks to a looming bankruptcy.

And from the Clinch-This Sports Desk …

Aaron Nola took the mound for last night’s big game against the Pirates at CBP — big because if they won it, the Phils would clinch a playoff berth. The first three batters went down in a row, as did the next three in the second. No Pirates scoring in the third, fourth, fifth … was the Real Aaron Nola back? Unfortunately, their Mitch Keller was doing just as well.

Henry Davis got a single in the sixth, but the next batter hit into a double play, and the next one was Nola’s 200th strikeout of the season. Keller pulled something in his arm on a pitch to Brandon Marsh, but he stayed in — and instantly gave up a homer, the Phils’ first hit of the night.

Johan Rojas then singled but was out at second on a Kyle Schwarber grounder. Trea Turner smacked a single that took Schwarbs to third, and Trea took second on a wild pitch to Bryce Harper, who hit a sac fly to make it 2-0.

Alas, Bryan Reynolds led off the seventh with a solo homer, and Jack Suwinski got a one-out infield hit, but Jared Triolo struck out, whereupon Nola came out for Matt Strahm, who’s tied in my book for Best Phillies Hair with Alec Bohm, who made a great line-drive catch to end the rally.

Dauri Moreta took the mound for Pittsburgh in the bottom half to face Bryson Stott, who got to first when Moreta couldn’t handle a toss to cover the base, then stole second as J.T. Realmuto struck out. Nick Castellanos popped up, bringing up Marsh, who needs more curl and less water to his hair — and who struck out. Craig Kimbrel came in for the eighth and gave up a one-out solo homer to Davis that tied the game.

In the bottom half, Ryan Borucki came in to pitch to Schwarbs with one out and struck him out and got Turner on a grounder. It was José Alvarado for the ninth, and he struck out Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, then got Suwinski on a pop-up. In the bottom half, Borucki got Harper on a weak grounder, and Carmen Mlodzinski came in to pitch to Bohm, who grounded out — at least it was close! — bringing up Stott, who got a single and brought J.T. to the plate, who walked on four pitches. Castellanos up! Two strikes on him, and … a called strike three. Damn. More free baseball.

With Suwinski on second, Jeff Hoffman walked Triolo, and Connor Joe flew out. Endy Rodriguez flew out, too, but Suwinski went to third, and Hoffman got Davis to strike out! Bottom of the 10th. Cristian Pache on second for the Phils, with David Bednar pitching to Marsh. He struck out, bringing up Rojas, who got a base hit to center that scored speedy Pache! Yay, Rookie!

Phils win, 3-2! Woo! Phils baseball lives on!

In Sixers News …

The Sixers tip off their pre-season schedule a week from this Sunday. Yesterday morning, by the way, Nets GM Sean Marks said he plans to “unleash” Ben Simmons on the rest of the NBA this season. We’re quakin’ heah. Actually, when I told my husband this, he said, “You mean unload him?”

And in Doop News …

The Union are at home at Subaru Park tonight vs. FC Dallas, starting at 7:30.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.