A curfew will be in effect for Upper Merion Township between 6 p.m. Sunday night through 6 a.m. Monday after looters damaged the King of Prussia Mall.
Members of the Upper Merion community gathered Saturday as part of nationwide protests of the death of George Floyd.
“Those protestors, along with the Upper Merion Police Department, demonstrated exactly how a peaceful protest works: non-violent, nonthreatening freedom of expression from the public and tolerance from the authorities,” Upper Merion officials said.
Hours after the peaceful protests, hundreds of people rushed toward the King of Prussia Mall destroying property. Officials said nine people in all were arrested and none of them were from Upper Merion.
“To be clear, this rioting was a completely separate incident and had no connection with the peaceful protest that took place earlier in the evening,” Upper Merion officials said. “We have no way of knowing whether or not Upper Merion residents were among them, but we sincerely hope that is not the case.”
Despite the curfew, Upper Merion officials reiterated that they support peaceful protests while condemning rioting and looting.
“We wholeheartedly support the expression of First Amendment Rights via peaceful protests, and love to see a community actively engaged in matters that resonate both locally and across the nation, but violence is unacceptable,” they wrote.
“We support an individual’s right to constitutional free speech, assembly and protest, but cannot accept wanton violence, uncivil discourse or looting.”
Cities across the nation, including Philadelphia, have seen looting, rioting and violence following peaceful protests over the weekend in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
Philadelphia also instituted a citywide curfew after rioters damaged several businesses in Center City Saturday night into Sunday morning. More riots were reported in Kensington and Port Richmond on Sunday.