The White House has described the Philadelphia police’s killing of Walter Wallace as a result of “the Liberal Democrats’ war against the police”, criticising the protests that have sprung up and vowing the the United States will never give in to “mob rule”.
In a strongly-worded statement, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said the government “stands proudly with law enforcement” and offered to send in federal forces “to end these riots”.
The killing of Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man with mental health issues, newlywed and a father of seven, was not mentioned.
“The riots in Philadelphia are the most recent consequence of the Liberal Democrats’ war against the police,” she said.
" Law enforcement is an incredibly dangerous occupation, and thousands of officers have given their lives in the line of duty.
"All lethal force incidents must be fully investigated. The facts must be followed wherever they lead to ensure fair and just results.
"In America, we resolve conflicts through the courts and the justice system. We can never allow mob rule.
"The Trump Administration stands proudly with law enforcement, and stands ready, upon request, to deploy any and all Federal resources to end these riots."
Joe Biden’s response to Wallace’s death struck a notable different tone.
“Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost,” he said.
“Walter’s life mattered.”
Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost.
Walter’s life mattered. https://t.co/mGki28Cpyr
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 27, 2020
Our statement on the riots in Philadelphia ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bfgPJDn9C2
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 28, 2020
The shooting of Wallace, who officers said had a knife, came eight days before the election, and with his home state of Pennsylvania hugely significant for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Mr Biden is leading in the state by just 5.1 points: Mr Trump won it in 2016 by 0.7 points.
Both candidates have been sending their “stars” to the state — Melania Trump on Tuesday night, Barack Obama on October 21, in his first rally for Mr Biden.
Polling site FiveThirtyEight describes Pennsylvania as “the state our forecast currently thinks is most likely to decide the election”.
Mr Trump has campaigned on a ticket of “law and order”, and has been endorsed by the majority of police unions.
Mr Biden, on the other hand, frames his position as “law and order with justice”.
Video of Wallace’s shooting shows him walking towards the officers, but from a distance.
His family say they had told police he was mentally ill and suffering from a disturbed episode.
Two officers both fire seven shots at Wallace, killing him in front of his mother and brother.
Hundreds of marchers demanding racial justice periodically skirmished with and cursed at police through the night on Tuesday and into early Wednesday.
Tuesday's rallies began peacefully but grew confrontational as darkness fell, just as on the previous day. Thirty officers were injured on Monday night and 90 people arrested.
Police on Tuesday night turned out in force to cordon off a West Philadelphia commercial district that was looted the previous night.
But looters broke into business elsewhere, in the city's Port Richmond section, aerial news video from WPVI television showed. At other times, police in riot gear shoved jeering protesters back from barricade lines.