Police in Philadelphia have made at least 52 arrests after a protest degenerated into a citywide looting spree that saw mobs of black youths raid stores in the city’s commercial center. One local influencer live-streamed her own arrest after taking part in the anarchy.
Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford told NBC10 that officers were summoned shortly after 8pm on Tuesday, as a crowd of young people made their way to a shopping area in the center of the city. Some in the crowd had come from City Hall, where a protest took place after manslaughter charges were dropped against a police officer who shot a knife-wielding black man at a traffic stop last month.
Multiple stores were vandalized and looted by the mob, including an Apple store, a Foot Locker, and a Lululemon, the latter of which sells high-end yoga gear.
In scenes reminiscent of the George Floyd riots of 2020, video footage showed staff in an Apple store attempting to hold the door closed, until a group of masked marauders overpowered them and stole all the phones on display in the store.
What is wrong with people?
In Philadelphia last night, a bunch of people break into an Apple Store and take all of the iPhone 15s.
With sirens blaring, they then run out only to realize that all of the iPhones have been disabled and they may be being tracked.
So what do they… pic.twitter.com/BxQdI0BhZF
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) September 27, 2023
Much of the looting was broadcast on social media by local influencer Dayjia ‘Meatball’ Blackwell. Blackwell can be heard laughing and clapping in these video clips, and shouting “Free iPhones! Free iPhones!” Another clip filmed by Blackwell showed the looting of a liquor store.
“Tell the police they’re either gonna lock me up tonight, or it’s gonna get lit, it’s gonna be a movie,” she shouted at one point in her videos. Blackwell was arrested shortly afterwards, with her live stream cutting out after police approached a vehicle she was traveling in and asked her to step out.
Police announced on Tuesday night that they had arrested 20 people. By Wednesday afternoon, that number had increased to 52, Mayor Jim Kenney told NBC10.
“And, they are going to have to pay a price. This is not shoplifting,” the mayor said. “This is looting. This is a riot.”
“This had nothing to do with the protests. What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists,” Stanford said.