National Guard vehicles were stationed around City Hall and other government buildings in downtown Philadelphia early Monday as an overnight curfew lifted following ongoing protests over George Floyd's death.
Philadelphia officials closed most services and business in the city's center after a second day of peaceful protests over Floyd's death turned into another night of destruction. Floyd died last week after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
By early Monday, the Ben Franklin Bridge and other roadways leading into Philadelphia had reopened, and public transportation had restarted with some disruptions from damage.
Curfews, barricades and police presence pushed many of the protests into neighborhoods away from downtown late Sunday night. But not until more store windows were broken along business corridors around City Hall and dozens of arrests were made.
It was unclear from news releases where the National Guard troops would be stationed Monday or whether they would be moved if another day of unrest was to break out in areas outside of the city's center.
People were seen running into multiple stores in Northeast Philadelphia and emerging with merchandise late into Sunday night. And in West Philadelphia, a predominantly black neighborhood also far from the city center, police fired tear gas as people broke into boarded storefronts, stealing merchandise and damaging property including a row of police vehicles.
Video from several TV news crews shows people smashing police car windows, rifling through the empty vehicles and pushing the cars into others.
Meanwhile, the city's fire crews battled blazes overnight and into the early morning, some threatening whole blocks of buildings and disrupting subway service. A Philadelphia Fire Department spokesperson posted on Twitter Monday morning that crews had responded to nearly 250 fire calls, including two dozen structure fires that required hose trucks.
Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said Monday that crews had brought a fire under control at a business in the city's Olney neighborhood north of City Hall on Broad Street after it broke out around 7:30 a.m. Plumes of smoke and ladders spraying water could be seen on all sides of the building.
"The building certainly was affected by some of the unrest we had here, but it's too early to say what the cause [of the fire] was," Thiel said from the scene.
A few hours earlier, Thiel had given a similar statement to reporters after crews contained a three-alarm fire that appeared to have been started at a Rent-A-Center. That fire caused several building collapses, endangering an entire block of businesses and residences, as well as causing commuters to have to be diverted by bus between two elevated train stops as fire crews worked around the tracks.
Several firefighters were injured when fires broke out in downtown Philadelphia Saturday night, Thiel said. No injuries had been reported from the fires Sunday or Monday morning.
Close to 20 police officers have been injured, city officials said Sunday, including an officer who was hit by a vehicle and several who were hit with bricks.
Police had arrested more than 200 people throughout the weekend for charges ranging from vandalism and theft, to breaking citywide mandatory curfews.