Guardian Angels expanding efforts to Philadelphia amid concerns of unrest

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The Guardian Angels are planning to expand their neighborhood watch efforts into Philadelphia after requests from the public amid unrest and uncertainty surrounding the 2020 presidential election.

The non-profit crime prevention network, founded by Curtis Sliwa in New York City in the 1970s, has already deployed 4,000 volunteers to other parts of the nation, such as Washington, D.C., Denver, Portland, Chicago, Tampa, Baltimore and Cleveland, in addition to the Big Apple.

Sliwa told Fox News on Thursday plans are now in place to deploy even more Guardian Angels to the Pennsylvania city, which was been home to both protests and riots, as well as ongoing election unrest in recent days.

“Our groups have been asked from New York and Baltimore and Washington to do that,” he said, when asked if he had any plans to deploy members to the City of Brotherly Love. “They’ve already had a series of demonstrations and there the vote count is so important and it's important to make sure that nobody is interfering with that.”

As of Thursday, the Guardian Angels had not yet deployed any members, but said there are plans underway to do such by the weekend.

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    A demonstrator tosses confetti outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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    Demonstrators gather outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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    A Trump supporter, left, argues points with other protestors gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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    People wear costumes of U.S. Postal Service mailboxes, Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, and Independence Hall while demonstrating outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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    People wear costumes of Independence Hall, the White House and U.S. Postal Service mailboxes while demonstrating outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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    Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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    Demonstrators rally outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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    Supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sliwa said requests for Guardian Angels’ help came from members of the public in Philly, who are “at wit's end because the demonstrations there are nonstop.”

Unrest began days before the election following the police-involved shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. on Oct. 26. Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man who allegedly failed to comply with police officers’ orders to drop the knife he was holding. His parents called emergency responders because they said Wallace was experiencing a mental health episode.

FAMILY OF PHILADELPHIA MAN SLAIN BY COPS PLEADS WITH PUBLIC NOT TO TEAR UP CITY AMID RELEASE OF POLICE VIDEO

Members of the Guardian Angels, a volunteer organization of unarmed citizens which began in the late 1970’s, stand guard near looted stores during a night of protests and vandalism over the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The officers, who were identified as 25-year-old Sean Matarazzo, and Thomas Munz, 26, were not equipped with Tasers at the time. They can be heard in recently released body-camera footage shouting at Wallace to drop the knife. Officials estimated that the officers fired 14 bullets collectively. It wasn’t clear how many struck Wallace.

In the hours and days that followed, protesters and rioters took to the streets, where at times they looted stores and started fires.

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    Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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    Protesters face off with police during a demonstration Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

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    A woman cleans up debris at a Walmart, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, that was damaged in protests in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

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    A person uses a fire extinguisher to put out a burning barricade in Philadelphia on October 27, 2020, during a protest over the police shooting of 27-year-old Black man Walter Wallace.(GABRIELLA AUDI/AFP via Getty Images)

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    A man stands holds merchandise outside of a damaged store after protest, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia over the death of Walter Wallace, a Black man who was killed by police in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

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    A Philadelphia police officer is covered with an unidentified red substance during a confrontation with protesters, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

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    Demonstrators raise their fists in front of police officers during a rally after the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man who was shot by police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 27, 2020. (REUTERS/Bastiaan Slabbers)

Following Wallace’s shooting, more than 90 people were arrested and about 50 police officers injured in clashes with protesters and vandals, including the 1,000 or so who suddenly swarmed a shopping center the following night, breaking windows and stealing merchandise. That scene erupted on the other side of the city, miles from Wallace’s neighborhood, where protests were underway.

Protesters have also been active since Election Day, but demonstrations have largely been peaceful. Police on Thursday said no protest-related arrests were made and no major incidents were reported overnight. Police have not yet released any information regarding protest-related arrests from Thursday night into Friday.

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Meanwhile, the FBI and PPD are investigating what has been reported as a thwarted plot against the Philadelphia Convention Center, where ballots are being counted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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