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West Philly Activist Charged With Arson of Police Car; More Looting Wednesday; Van With Explosives
 
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 10/29/20 4:54 pm | updated: 10/29/20 4:54 pm
 
United States Attorney William McSwain announced charges on Thursday afternoon, 10/29, against four men related to arsons of police vehicles during George Floyd protests in Philadelphia on the afternoon of May 30. 29-year-old Anthony Smith of West Philadelphia, 30-year-old Carlos Matchett of Atlantic City, New Jersey, 25-year-old Khalif Miller of Philadelphia, and 24-year-old Ayoub Tabri of Arlington, Virginia are each charged with two counts of arson and one count of obstructing law enforcement after being indicted by grand jury. Tabri is accused of throwing a flare into a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle that was parked at the entrance of I-676 at Broad and Vine Streets. Smith, Matchett, and Miller are implicated in the arson of a Philadelphia Police Department Civil Affairs vehicle that was parked on the north side of City Hall.

"I want to be clear that we at the U.S. Attorney's Office support peaceful protest - indeed, it is part of our job to protect First Amendment freedoms," U.S. Attorney William McSwain said. "We take that responsibility very seriously. But violence is not speech. There is no right to riot, loot, rob, destroy or commit arson. If you engage in violent civil unrest and commit a federal crime in this District, we will come after you as hard as we can because residents deserve safe and secure neighborhoods, not mayhem."

Anthony Smith is a prominent activist and also the lead plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit related to the police response to the protests in West Philadelphia earlier this year on May 31 near 52nd Street. He is one of the organizers of the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial Economic and Legal Justice (Philly for REAL Justice). He was just named by Philadelphia Magazine as one of "The 76 Most Influential People in Philadelphia" for his role in removing the Frank Rizzo statue. McSwain said that Smith was not targeted because of his affiliations or his activism, but for the specific criminal acts he is accused.

Anthony Smith Indictment by Victor Fiorillo



The looting continued in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, 10/28, despite a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. The extent of the lawlessness was far less than the previous two nights. Along City Ave, the border between the city and Montgomery County, several stores were broken into including Rite Aid, Lord and Taylor, Lukoil, a cell phone store, and Target. Several suspects were arrested. In Northeast Philadelphia, a strip mall at Solly Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in Rhawnhurst was vandalized. A group of over a dozen people smashed the windows of several businesses including Redz Bar and Grill, Acme, Fine Wine and Spirits, and a cleaners. Some merchandise was taken, but the vandals left a big mess for business owners to clean up.

Philadelphia police and the bomb squad responded after an abandoned van was discovered in Center City with propane tanks, torches, and low-grade explosives. The cargo van was found on Wednesday night, 10/28, on Ben Franklin Parkway near North 19th Street in Logan Square. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating. Two people are in custody. No further details have been released. The city has been rocked by numerous ATM explosions since Monday night.

UPDATE: Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro says that Brian Larue and Eric Murray are both facing charges of possession of weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy, and risking a catastrophe, along with several misdemeanor charges.

 
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