Walter Wallace Jr and West Philly History
By Beaudry Rae Allen, Laura Bang, and Deborah Bishov
Illustration of a smiling young Black man with shoulder-length locs with text saying “Walter Wallace Jr.” and “Black Disabled Lives Matter” By Micah Bazant
This week we mourn and once again must grapple with the senseless killing of a black person by the police, this time in Philadelphia. Walter Wallace Jr. was gunned down by Philadelphia Police on the 6100 block of Locust Street, despite the fact that his family had called for an ambulance and begged the police not to shoot, because he was experiencing a mental health crisis. The events unfolding are not a microcosm, but they highlight issues around race, police brutality, and mental health services in our communities.
The use of excessive force by the police, particularly in this geographic location, is sadly not an anomaly and sparks a reminder of the Philadelphia Police Department’s sordid history with the West Philadelphia community. Only a few blocks from the site of Wallace’s murder is the site of the 1985 MOVE bombing in which Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on a residential home of the black liberation group MOVE. The bombing killed 6 adults and 5 children as well as destroying many homes in the area. If this is your first time reading about the MOVE bombings the library has many resources available to learn more about the events and how Philadelphia has been shaped by the events.
Physical Books Available for Contactless Pickup
- Let it Burn!: The Philadelphia Tragedy: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/185201
- The MOVE Crisis in Philadelphia: Extremist Groups and Conflict Resolution https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/387592
- Let the Fire Burn (Video) https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1941681
- MOVE: An American Religion https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/2337187
Additional resources for support:
- University Counseling Center (610) 519-4050
- Office of Health Promotion (610) 519-7409
- Campus Ministry (610) 519-4080
Please contact these departments, as they are available for emotional, mental, and spiritual support. Support and services are available to all students, whether on-campus, off-campus, or at home.
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Our taxes pay for the training, weapons, and salaries of police officers. They should be held accountable for crimes committed against our communities. One distressed man wielding a knife and all a group of trained police officers could think of doing was to say “put down the knife” and then shoot to kill. Why weren’t other measures taken to de-escalate the situation or to disarm?