George Floyd protests

Citywide curfew in Philly follows day of peaceful protests that ends with violence

At one point, people tried to topple the Rizzo statue.

The largest action of the week, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, drew more than 50,000 people

The largest action of the week, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, drew more than 50,000 people

Emma Lee / WHYY

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Philadelphia was placed under mandatory citywide curfew from 8 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday, by order of Mayor Jim Kenney. The curfew will again be in effect starting 6 p.m. Sunday night.

The mandates follow a day that started with around 3,000 people attending peaceful protests, according to city officials. It ended with a much smaller group causing major havoc and vandalism to municipal buildings and looting of retail storefronts in Center City.

A fire at a Doc Martens store on Chestnut Street burned throughout Saturday night; fire trucks were still dousing it with water Sunday morning, according to images posted online.

“There are several outside agitators,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Friday night, indicating that in her mind, people who incited destruction were a separate group than the earlier marchers. “We know there are also some young people out there who are confused,” she added.

“The people who were marching, were not the problem,” Mayor Kenney said.

Under the curfew, only people with “essential duties” are allowed to be outside. The city is also still under the mayor’s pandemic stay-at-home order and Gov. Wolf’s “red” phase, which both discourage being outside your home unless necessary to combat viral spread.

Protests over institutional racism and police brutality began around noon and lasted all day. Philly is one of many American cities to see protests reacting to the repeated death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement after a former Minneapolis police officer was arrested and charged with murdering George Floyd. Curfews were also established Saturday night in Atlanta and Los Angeles, according to USA Today.

There is another Philadelphia event planned for Sunday at 1 p.m. next to the Octavius Catto statue.

Saturday’s rallies stayed peaceful as they moved from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and back again, and the same for gatherings early afternoon outside PPD headquarters. By late afternoon, some factions of protesters started getting violent.

The Rizzo statue, long a controversial symbol connected to police brutality, was covered with graffiti and attempted to be pulled down, before fires were set on its pedestal. Several empty cars were also smashed up, turned over, and set on fire.

At least 13 police officers were injured during the day, along with an unknown number of protesters, according to Commissioner Outlaw.

We followed along on Twitter, pulling in some of the scenes from the many excellent journalists on the ground. Recapping that thread, here’s how the day went down.

Two separate protests agreed to collaborate

The noon rally at City Hall started with 9 minutes of silence

Residents showed support as marchers headed toward the Art Museum

At this point, and up through most of the day, police and protesters did not clash

Hundreds gathered on the Art Museum steps

Many people wore masks, and people chanted peacefully

Some even brought masks for others, and handed them out as the march returned toward City Hall

There was some light graffiti along the Ben Franklin Parkway, a portent of more to come

The marchers turned onto North Broad and headed to Vine , but were stopped from entering I-676 by lines of officers

Some groups started dancing on cars

Many marchers dispersed as the cars started exploding

People leaving the car-buring area streamed past the iconic LOVE sculpture in Love Park.

Harriet’s Bookshop, recently opened in Fishtown, donated books to rally participants

Meanwhile, some marchers began trying to topple the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo

Ropes were deployed, and people also swung metal bars to try to chip away at the pedestal

At the same time, another group gathered calmly around the police headquarters at 7th and Race

The first real clash between police and protesters came as officers advanced toward the Rizzo statue

That statue has been a political flashpoint in the city for decades

A block away from the Rizzo statue, cars were burning

Some people also vandalized City Hall — and eventually took down the controversial Starbucks in Dilworth Park

As things moved from bad to worse, with storefronts smashed and goods looted along Chestnut and Walnut, many people urged viewers not to conflate the early rallies with the violence that followed


Want some more? Explore other George Floyd protests stories.

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