by Alex Lloyd Gross
May 30 2020 will be a dark day in the cities history. it was the day a few thousand rioters, many from out of town , destroyed the center city business district and government property. All while protesting the death of someone that they did not even know, and that happened over 1200 miles away from here. That did not stop these individuals, who started to riot just as soon as they left a peaceful protest at the Art Museum.
At first it was graffiti on buildings. Next it was broken windows, right in front of police who could do nothing. Within minutes, at Broad and Vine Streets, someone set State Police cars on fire. There were few if any arrests. Many on social media called to police response inadequate. Especially, when city buildings were damaged. As police pushed the crowd, the crowd pushed back and got into shoving matches with police. Many of those people were not arrested. Some of the crowd sprayed chemicals into the eyes of police with water guns. Police tried to arrest as many of those individuals as they could.
As the riot got to city hall, the crowd broke off into several groups. Some vandalized the Rizzo statue at the Municipal Services Building. They attached ropes and stole bike rack barricade, to try to pull the statue down. Their feeble attempts were laughable, as Rizzo it seemed fought them all from the grave. The statue did not move. Even after one genius decided to smack it with a sledgehammer. When that did not work, he tried to break the steps of the building. All he got for his efforts was tired and to be labeled and embarrassment. So the next thing they tried to do was spray it with graffiti. Then they tried to burn it. Bright and early Sunday, CLIP workers were back and cleaned the graffiti off. Like those vandals were never there. Like their efforts never mattered.
As that group was wasting their time with the Rizzo statue, another group was busy busting windows at city hall and one female was arrested for trying to set the building on fire. As graffiti was sprayed on the walls, someone broke into the Starbucks which was on the south side of city hall. Within minutes, he set it on fire, in full view of television news choppers.
This was not black people rioting This was every race rioting. White, Hispanic, black, it did not matter the race.The one common denominator was destruction. Some blocked responding fire trucks from trying to get to fires. Others threw items as police. By this time, arrests were starting to pick up. Many police fear that District Attorney Larry Krasner will only make deals with the rioters for small fines or probation.
Soon, the groups turned their attention to the stores. Several police cars were already burned . They broke windows and jumped through the broken glass, some getting cut in the process. They stole anything they could get their hands on. Clothing stores, saw displays ripped apart and people grabbed what they could. There was no shopping for size. It was common for people to grab things, then discard it out of the store once they saw what they stole. Outside Urban Outfitters, for example piles of clothes were strewn about. A fat woman cannot wear a size 4 and a short male cannot wear 34×36 pants. Another example would be a college physics textbook that was laying on 17th street. Presumably the thief could not understand it and tossed it.
By this time police were making arrests. All arrestees went to the 22nd district for processing then got transferred to 8th and Race,police headquarters. It is a long process. Early Sunday morning, a parade of wagons and police cars waiting in line for prisoner drop off. Inside wagon 2501 a man could be heard banging against the walls. He would be inside there awhile. Police arrested some for a curfew which started at 8:00 PM. Most people were ignored who were out, unless they were strolling around with nothing to do, in the business area.
Facebook rumors started that the rioters would target homes in the Northeast. Franklin Mills would be looted, looters were in route. That was false and only tied up police response, who checked the property. The footlocker at the Roosevelt Mall was the target of looters,as the front window was smashed and the store was destroyed. It is unknown what people got away with.
Back in center city, arsonists set fired to some buildings, which reached at least three alarms. One police officer sustained a broken arm when an SUV ran over him and kept going. That vehicle and the driver was found a few hours later.
Early Sunday, as crews were cleaning the graffiti, glass repair contractors and board up companies were busy fixing smashed windows. The sad facts of this riot are two fold. The rioters were successful in changing the narrative of the coverage.and of the story. What started out as peaceful protests turned into a night of mayhem . George Floyd, the black male who was killed at the hands of police in Minneapolis, worked security. His job would have been to detain the very same people that did the destruction. The other part is that many businesses will not come back. Many were shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they cannot rebuild after this loss. Even still, a black male rode by the damage on a bicycle yelling the damage was not enough. Most of the looting was done in full view of cameras. Police will make that footage available and those felons will not be anonymous any more. The media will share them and they will be arrested for burglary .