On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial had all charges dismissed in the shooting death of Eddie Irizarry. The 27-year-old Puerto Rican man with a history of schizophrenia was killed in his car after police stopped him going the wrong way down a one-way street.
At first, police said Irizarry was outside of the car and “lunged” at them with a knife. But nearby Ring cameras and police body cameras showed that to be a lie as Irizarry was barely given the chance to respond at all and was shot through his closed car window.
After a peaceful protest at City Hall on Tuesday night, protesters dispersed. But as nighttime fell, thieves spread across Center City, looting the Lululemon, Apple and Footlocker stores on Walnut Street, the city’s high-end shopping area. That street has undergone major changes since the pandemic and the racial uprising post-George Floyd, with several stores closing. Two retail locations were burned down and have yet to be replaced.
Thieves fanned out along two or three blocks of Walnut Street and more than 50 were arrested. Though some of them shown on social media appeared to be teens, the majority of those arrested were adults. That included a social media influencer named Meatball, born Dayjia Blackwell, 21, who livestreamed Tuesday’s robberies but was shown crying in her mugshot when she was arrested the next day.
(She has since been released, thanking her “supporters.”)
Interim Philadelphia police commissioner John Stanford, who took over the job from former commissioner Danielle Outlaw the day before Dial’s charges were dropped, said the protest and looting were not connected, calling the thieves “criminal opportunists” and saying they were trying to take advantage of the situation to “destroy our city.”
However, online commentary suggests that the Irizarry case may have prompted some of the looters. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, social media posts included one from someone who said, “I know they say tearing up our stuff ain’t right, but that’s the only way they hear us.”
On Wednesday, Sept.27, thieves continued to strike, destroying a state liquor store in the city’s Northeast section, which is 25 minutes from Center City. This was after the state decided to close all of Pennsylvania’s liquor stores in the wake of Tuesday night’s coordinated thefts.
A beauty supply store was also hit in the city’s Frankford neighborhood.
The owner, Claudia Silmaes, is a Haitian immigrant who just opened six months ago.
“It’s just me doing everything, I don’t know what to think, I don’t know who to call,” Silmeas told CBS 6. “It’s just a lot right now. Everything is still missing. I don’t see where or how I’m going to get any help,” Silmeas said. “I still got to have to be open because I need the money. I need the money to fix whatever is broken.”
Philadelphia police say they will step up their presence around the city on Thursday.
Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, told the Inquirer that the family rejects any looting, stealing or violence in any misguided effort to help them. She said she would rather see people “come to the court instead of tearing down our city. Let’s do this the right way.”
Watch a CBS Philadelphia report on the thefts below:
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