The Latin American and Latinx Studies program and community are mourning one more preventable death at the hands of the police. In this case, Walter Wallace Jr, a 27-year old Black man, son, husband, and father, was executed in front of his house in West Philadelphia, as his mother was intervening to de-escalate the conflict with the police. Neighbors’ video footage shows the police had already drawn their guns and were aiming at Walter even as his mother was pushing him towards the sidewalk, presumably in the direction of their house. Walter had a knife but was far away from the policemen when they started shooting. Online videos of similar situations with young white men holding knives against the police also reveal a very different approach by the police in other districts.
We cannot move on as a city and nation like this. State execution of Black men and women at the hands of the police must end. The Philadelphia Police Department needs the training to de-escalate conflict and to only draw their weapons as last resort. We also urgently need other types of first responders, such as mental health care teams, particularly in the context of the pandemic. We need change and we need it now! Not one more Black or Brown person should die due to the color of their skin. And we need to undo structural racism in Philly and in the US.
Our most sincere condolences to the family of Walter Wallace, Jr. May your life have not been lost in vain.
#WalterWallace and #BLM and #WestPhilly
(Written by LALS Director Dr. Tulia Falleti)