US Election: Chilling photo of policeman emerges amid city’s violence

A disturbing image of a police officer splattered with blood has emerged as violence persists in a state which could very well decide the US election.

Philadelphia, in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, has imposed a city-wide curfew to try to prevent a third night of looting and violence amid widespread protests over the police killing of a black man.

A blood splattered police officer seen holding a baton in Philadelphia riots.
A blood splattered police officer holding a baton has symbolised the disturbing unrest in Philadelphia. Source: Getty

The lockdown will start at 9pm on Wednesday (local time) and run until 6am on Thursday, mayor Jim Kenney and other officials have said.

Tension has gripped Philadelphia since Monday's deadly police shooting of Walter Wallace, 27, who was armed with a knife and described by relatives as suffering a mental breakdown.

Police have made 172 arrests and 53 officers have been injured in two nights of protests marked by significant looting stores and businesses, some still recovering from earlier unrest.

Large crowds seen filling the streets in Philadelphia.
Demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on October 27. Source: Getty

City officials said as many as 1,000 people were involved in looting in one corner of the city on Tuesday night, catching police off guard.

"These individuals are doing nothing but simply wasting our precious resources," Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, lamenting what she described as "widespread lawlessness" in Pennsylvania's biggest city.

The unrest has turned Philadelphia into the latest flashpoint in the US on issues of race and police use of force just days ahead of next week’s presidential election.

Police arrest men on the ground.
Arrests have been made as the violence continues. Source: Getty
Protesters set a sofa on fire in West Philadelphia during angry scenes. Source: Getty
Protesters set a sofa on fire in West Philadelphia during angry scenes. Source: Getty

Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term in office, has made policing a top campaign issue, calling for a tough "law and order" stance on the protests.

In Nevada on Wednesday, he said the events in Philadelphia were "terrible" and offered to send federal help.

"What I'm witnessing is terrible and frankly that the mayor or whoever it is that's allowing people to riot and loot and not stopping them is also just a horrible thing," he said.

Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state in the race between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who has said he supports police but wants to address racial inequalities.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said on Wednesday his administration stood ready to help the city including to "avoid unnecessary harm to businesses that provide services to affected neighbourhoods".

"We must address the systemic problems that cause tragedies against people of colour," he said on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Mr Wolf ordered several hundred National Guard officers to prepare to assist.

Mayor Kenney said they would be brought in to "safeguard property and prevent looting" without providing a time frame.

Tuesday's rallies began peacefully but grew confrontational as darkness fell, just as on the previous day.

Police turned out in force to cordon off a West Philadelphia commercial district that was looted the previous night.

But looters broke into businesses elsewhere, including in the city's Port Richmond section, video from WPVI television showed. At times, police in riot gear shoved protesters back from barricade lines.

A black woman pictured screaming at a police line.
A demonstrator screams at a police line during a protest near the location where Walter Wallace, Jr. was killed by two officers. Source: Getty

The violence erupted despite the pleading of the dead man's father, Walter Wallace Sr, who on Tuesday urged people to "stop the violence" out of respect for his son and family.

"I don't condone no violence, tearing up the city, looting of the stores and all this chaos," he told reporters and a gathering of people.

"It's an SOS to help, not to hurt."

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