PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Renewed calls for justice are echoing across the United States this Saturday. In Philadelphia, those calls come as a steady, dramatically elevated police presence monitors developments across the city two days ahead of closing arguments in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and tensions are already building.
Large, peaceful crowds Saturday filled the intersection of Broad and Callowhill Streets. Demonstrators called for justice ahead of the Chauvin verdict. Also on their minds are a number of police-involved shootings, including the recent killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Before heading there, the crowd was farther south along the north side of City Hall in Dilworth Park.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
Eyewitness News cameras captured marching, flags waving and urging an end to violence and police excessive force.
— Howard Monroe (@HMonroeNews) April 17, 2021
Philadelphia police are operating on heightened alert this Saturday evening. Police personnel is at high levels in case of instances of civil unrest.
The city is bracing for demonstrations. So far, they’ve been peaceful and without incident.
The Pennsylvania National Guard has also been activated and is ready to assist.
It’s a sharp contrast to scenes from late May and June. Those were the early days of response to the police killing of George Floyd.
Police cars were lit ablaze and destroyed. Looters overtook businesses in Port Richmond, Center City, West Philadelphia, and Rittenhouse.
One source told Eyewitness News the police department is pleased with how things have played out so far Saturday.
The city is gearing up for what could potentially be a disastrous week. Here on Aramingo Avenue, there are barricades in different lots and a tremendous police presence. There are officers in every lot and police officers have been on foot patrol all day. Officers have also been patrolling on bikes as well as in vehicles.
.@PhillyPolice adding metal barricades to retail corridors like Aramingo Avenue in the 24th District that were hard hit in earlier unrest. Closings in the Chauvin Trial are set for Monday. @JoeHoldenCBS3 and @alecia__reid will have the latest Sat. evening on @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/WWntOtdQ8Z
— manuelsmith (@manuelsmith) April 17, 2021READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
“Last time, it was reactive,” Brian Hopkins with Aramingo Business Improvement District said.
Businesses in the Port Richmond area started boarding up earlier this week.
“The safety precautions they’re taking by boarding up is a good thing,” John Sanchez of Port Richmond said.
That includes E Nails. The owner told Eyewitness News they’re taking all necessary precautions before the Chauvin trial verdict comes down. They were looted last year during the riots and looting in Philadelphia after Floyd was killed. It took months to recover, and she wants to ensure their assets are protected.
Law enforcement as well as the Aramingo Business Improvement District have been paying attention to social media chatter, where a lot of looting plans took place in the past.
“We go door-to-door and we try to tell them how they can be safe, based on our model and the larger aspect of making sure they don’t incur as much as they could have incurred in terms of damage,” Hopkins said.
Gov. Tom Wolf activated the state’s National Guard on Friday to Philly at the request of city officials.
“I’m going to stay in my house like I did last time,” Paul Morlock of Port Richmond said.
Some people can’t stay home and need access to grocery stores.
“I have kids that have disabilities, so I can’t get to stuff when that’s going on,” Xiomara Gonzalez of Port Richmond said.
The increased police presence is out of an abundance of caution, officials say.
Port Richmond businesses have boarded up early, and business owners have written “open” or “we’re open” on the boards.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
CBS3’s Alecia Reid and Joe Holden contributed to this report.