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Akron protesters demand change after police killing of Jayland Walker

by Sydney Anderson
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A little over a week after police brutally killed Jayland Walker by shooting him 60 times, the citizens of Akron and Walker’s family continue to demand justice and accountability.

Feelings of anger and frustration are predominant in Akron as citizens demand answers over the demise of Jayland Walker, who was killed by the people who are supposed to protect and serve.

Following the killing of Walker by the Akron Police Department, Akron organizers peacefully established a protest but were confronted by officials with tear gas, illegal arrests, and armed weapons.

During the mostly peaceful protests, stores and small businesses were damaged, provoking Mayor Dan Horrigan to instate a short-term curfew, which was lifted Wednesday morning.  Around 50 individuals were captured for charges of revolting and inability to scatter on Sunday, and groups of neighbors arrived at the jail Tuesday night to convey bail cash they’d raised.

Bodycam: Akron police blasted Jayland Walker with barrage of bullets

Protesters march along South High Street on Saturday in Akron, Ohio, calling for justice for Jayland Walker after he was fatally shot by police.
Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal via AP

Community leaders deliver letter to Akron leaders demanding change

Reverend Raymond Greene Jr, Executive Director of The Freedom BLOC, a Black civil rights engagement group, teamed with other faith advocates and leaders to send a letter to Akron City Council, the chief of Akron police, Mayor Dan Horrigan, and Governor Mike DeWine listing their demands.

Greene stated, “We’re ready to put pressure on the right people.”

“Instead of just marching down the street, yelling and screaming, we’re coming to see individuals that’s in charge of this happening. We need answers from the mayor, the public safety director, the prosecutor, and the city council.”

The letter comes as a response to nationwide protests that erupted because of Blacks being innocently killed by police officers, from the killing of George Floyd to the killing of Jayland Walker.

Akron organizers put forth a statement directed at the Akron Police Department, stating the demands and changes needed in the city. In the letter, 12 demands summarize what citizens expect, such as the prosecutions of the eight officers, the establishment of an Independent Truth and Reconciliation Center, an end to arresting and harming peaceful protesters, the development of a Citizen-led Commission, and many other regulations.

Initially, on July 4th, organizers hand-delivered their demands to Mayor Horrigan’s house. Yet, tanks and police armed with tactical gear and assault rifles prevented the concerned residents from participating in direct democracy.

Leaders say protests will continue

Ben Gifford, Finance Chair of Akron Democratic Socialists of America, declares, “We came with pieces of paper. They came with guns and body armor, and tanks. But we won’t be deterred. Protestors have stayed in the streets and will stay in the streets.”

Coalition members from the Freedom BLOC, Akron Democratic Socialists of America, and Serve the People Akron met with a U.S. Department of Justice representative, but the protesters say negotiations were not conducted fairly. Therefore, organizers put forth their demands calling for justice before future negotiations and conversations occur.

Greene asserts, “We have already negotiated how we will act based on the Constitution. The Constitution gives us a legal right for nonviolent civil disobedience, and they have disrespected the Constitution. Before we negotiate with any terrorist group, such as the Akron Police Department, the City of Akron, or the Mayor, they must meet our demands.” 

According to Greene, the protests in Akron and all over the country will continue until activists believe their voices have been heard.

 “There is no peace in the city because the Akron Police Department doesn’t want peace in the city,” said Greene.

Greene requested that citizens outside of Akron call their representatives and ask them to support the George Floyd Act, which creates a structure to prevent and rectify racial profiling by federal, state, and local officials.

The demands listed in the letter are requests that Akron citizens have been asking for years yet have not been met by the government and law enforcement officials. The purpose of this letter is for the community leaders to know who supports and opposes the demands. 

Akron authorities have declined to remark on Freedom BLOC’s requests. A protest is prepared for Monday’s city board meeting, where coordinators intend to call for police change.

2 comments

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