The plans to break into, vandalize and steal from Philadelphia businesses on Tuesday night were not a secret. As word spread that a judge had dismissed criminal charges against the former police officer who shot and killed Eddie Irizarry last month, people took to Instagram to share their anger and plan a response.
“WHAT TIME WE GOING “SHOPPING”???” one person asked. “We looting or not??!!” wrote another. "I know they say tearing up our stuff ain’t right,” someone said, “but that’s the only way they hear us.” Before the night was over, groups had broken into businesses across Philadelphia, stealing, ransacking and leaving destruction in their wake. Dozens of people — including what police called “criminal opportunists” — broke into stores along popular shopping corridors. They broke through metal door protectors and spliced locks with bolt cutters, looted the stores and fled with electronics, shoes, clothes, liquor, pharmaceuticals, and other goods, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Another round of vandalism hit the city Thursday morning, with beauty supply and liquor stores broken into.
By Wednesday, 52 people had been arrested, including three juveniles. Most were charged with burglary and theft, and one person faces charges of illegal gun possession. Most people arrested were between the ages of 18 and 22. “Basically, people saw an opportunity and they took it,” said Benjamin Nachum of Patriot Pharmacy, which was looted Tuesday night for the third time since it opened in 2019. The groups took to the streets after Judge Wendy Pew dismissed all charges against Mark Dial, who was a Philadelphia police officer when he was charged with murder for shooting Irizarry on Aug. 14. Dial, a five-year veteran of the force, shot Irizarry, 27, six times as he sat in his parked car, the windows rolled up and a knife in his hand, after police saw him driving erratically. Prosecutors said the officer’s decision to use lethal force was criminal, but Pew said they did not present enough evidence to support that and threw out the case. Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said Irizarry’s supporters had nothing to do with the unrest that followed.