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'Justice for Jayland Walker' Day in Akron: Group delivers petitions to city leaders with calls for change

The group has outlined several requests as they 'demand transparency and accountability from Akron’s officials' regarding Walker's shooting.

AKRON, Ohio — As this weekend marks two months since Jayland Walker was killed in a deadly police shooting involving eight Akron officers, a group of people delivered petitions to city leadership that demand justice in the case.

It comes as the Freedom BLOC (Black Led Organizing Collaborative) hosts a week of events focused on the Walker case, labeling today as "Justice for Jayland Walker Day."

The group has outlined the following requests as they “demand transparency and accountability from Akron’s officials” as listed here:

  • Protect protesters: Release all protesters from jail, drop any charges against protesters, expunge their records and remove all fines and fees. Immediately end the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and excessive force against protesters demanding justice for Jayland.
  • Create and fund an unarmed traffic enforcement unit for routine traffic stops: Police can’t be expected to respond to every crisis and incident, and too often they violently escalate nonviolent situations. Akron must fund an unarmed traffic enforcement unit, a separate unit to respond to mental health calls and programs that prioritize violence prevention.
  • Invest in community-led public safety solutions: Funneling more money into criminalization and policing, including the violent Akron Police Department, won’t prevent violence or harm, and only puts more Black lives in danger. Invest in what keeps Black communities safe, including housing, public transportation, food security, health care, reparations and the community-controlled public safety alternatives. Budgets are moral documents and should reflect the needs of the community.

“The Freedom BLOC was created to build Black political power and to equip the Black community with capacity building tools on civic education, civic engagement, campaign management and leadership development,” the organization explains.

As Walker’s death is currently being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, officials with the city of Akron had previously announced plans to create a civilian review board last month.

“This is something that our community has been talking about for quite some time now," said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville during a city press conference on July 18.

She said it's believed "this is the best pathway forward" for the community.

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story on July 18.

“The board will provide an independent community voice to the mayor, city council and also the chief of police in reviewing citizen complaints of the Akron police officers, analyzing public safety patterns and trends related to those complaints and regularly engaging with the community," Sommerville added.

Walker was shot and killed on June 27 when eight Akron police officers opened fire amid an overnight chase. Police say Walker had fired a shot at one point during the vehicle pursuit, but was unarmed at the time officers opened fire as the chase continued on foot. A gun was later found in Walker's vehicle, according to police.


Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story involving the Walker shooting on July 15, 2022.

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