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Several Akron neighborhoods postpone annual 'Night Out Against Crime' amid protest threats

Councilmembers have postponed the annual event in four wards after a group threatened to protest the death of Jayland Walker at the family-friendly function.

AKRON, Ohio — Four of Akron's City Councilmembers are postponing their respective wards' Night Out Against Crime event this year, after threats to use the event to protest the fatal shooting of Jayland Walker by police.

There are thousands of National Night Out Against Crime events hosted all over the country each year. It's part of a national campaign to curb crime and bridge relationships between police and the communities they serve.

"Functions like National Night Out, where families come together, is just the perfect opportunity for them to see us in a different light," Lt. Michael Miller of the Akron Police Department said. "We look forward to events like this where we can serve the people and have fun with them."

Each ward's council representative puts on the Night Out events in their respective neighborhoods, complete with games, free food from local vendors, music, community resources, and fun for the whole family. But this year, in the wake of the the Walker shooting last month, threats to protest at Akron's Night Out gatherings caused several councilmembers to postpone their ward's event.

"I received an email from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. It was from a group outside of the city that had said they wanted to come in and engage our police officers, and they listed all of the Night Out Against Crime locations," said Councilwoman Sharon Connor of Ward 10, covering primarily Akron's Goodyear Heights neighborhood. Goodyear Heights hosts the largest Night Out event in the Akron area.

"We draw 200-300 people. It is hard to control the people coming in and out in that big of a space," said Connor.

16 acres at Reservoir Park is a lot to monitor at a free community event open to the public. Connor decided 'better safe than sorry' and postponed her ward's Night Out. Highland Square, Middlebury and Kenmore neighborhoods did the same, in light of the threats.

"We have a lot of people who would possibly take matters into their own hands. I can’t have that with families and kids around. I just can’t," said Connor.

Councilwoman Connor wouldn’t say which group called for the protests, but she did say Goodyear Heights wasn’t directly threatened. Connor plans to reschedule her event at Reservoir Park for some time in October. 

NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME LOCATIONS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 4: 

  • Firestone Park Community Center, 1480 Girard Street, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Joy Park Community Center, 825 Fuller Street, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Ed Davis Community Center, 730 Perkins Woods Drive, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Patterson Baseball Complex, 955 Patterson Avenue, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Northwest Recreation Center, 1730 Shatto Avenue, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Chestnut Ridge Park,1958 Chestnut Ridge Blvd, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • West Hill Church of our Savior, 471 Crosby Street, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Odom Boulevard Branch Library, 600 Vernon Odom Blvd, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

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