We awoke today and saw the news of yet another killing of a Black man at the hands of police officers, this time in our own city. Philadelphia CLUW members are outraged and heartbroken over this unnecessary loss of life, and the continuing violence in our communities. Walter Wallace Jr. was struggling with mental health issues; his own mother witnessed the killing and told the police of his condition while intervening to try to save his life. Walter’s family and community demand to know why less lethal methods were not used to disarm their son and deescalate the situation, and so do we.
Philly CLUW expresses our sincere sympathy to the Wallace family as they deal with the loss of their son, husband, father and brother. We also express our support for comprehensive police reform, including the expansion of mental health services and intervention strategies that do not require police response. There must be accountability for all, but especially the Police Department. While we are appreciative that some conversation related to reform has begun, we urge City Council to proceed deliberately and rapidly with measures towards not only a ban on chokeholds, but also expanded and improved training on effective responses to mental health issues and the avoidance of lethal force, as well as independent oversight.
We stand in Solidarity with Walter Wallace, Jr. his family, and all communities fighting to defend Black lives from systemic racism, injustice, and police brutality.