The Pennsylvania National Guard was not yet seen late Tuesday night as looting and rioting broke out a second night in Philadelphia, following two police officers fatally shooting 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., who was reportedly carrying a knife and refused to drop it as he advanced towards them.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered several hundred Pennsylvania National Guard members to deploy to Philadelphia earlier in the evening, around 6:00 p.m. ET.
The Pennsylvania National Guard issued a statement that said at the direction of Wolf, they were mobilizing “several hundred members” in support of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and to “assist local agencies in protecting life, property and the right to peacefully protest.”
The PA National Guard will be in Philadelphia tonight after a night of looting and violence, and to help facilitate peaceful protests, per this statement from the Guard: @NBCPhiladelphia pic.twitter.com/SxXkjOXos0
— Randy Gyllenhaal (@RandyGyllenhaal) October 27, 2020
National Guard members do not act in law enforcement roles themselves, such as by arresting citizens, but can assist law enforcement agencies in other ways, such as traffic control or protection of property.
“We are able to conduct operations in support of civil authorities to enhance local law enforcement’s ability to provide continued public safety and critical infrastructure security,” Pennsylvania National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Keith Hickox said in a statement, according to Fox29.
But after mass looting began, National Guard members were still nowhere to be seen. The Philadelphia Police Department tweeted an alert at 8:47 p.m. that a “large crowd” of approximately 1,000 is looting businesses and to avoid the area.
*Alert* A large crowd of appx 1000 is looting businesses in the area of Castor and Aramingo. Avoid the area
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) October 28, 2020
Journalist Ian Miles Cheong tweeted video of a Walmart and other stores being looted. “The PA National Guard is standing down.”
Walmart and other stores are being looted. The PA National Guard is standing down. pic.twitter.com/kZCczYdOlY
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) October 28, 2020