About 100 people gathered outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron on Saturday to protest the fatal police shooting jayland walker.
The protest, which began at 2 p.m., was organized by the Northeastern Ohio branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Various speakers addressed the crowd outside the Summit County Courthouse, including:
• Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir rice12 years old, shot and killed in 2014 by a Cleveland police officer.
• Jacob Blake Sr.father of Jacob Blake Jr.29, who was shot seven times by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020 and partially paralyzed.
• Dee McCall, a military veteran who served for 11 years. McCall is now the community organizer for The Freedom BLOC, a grassroots organization that aims to build black political power and “equip the black community with capacity-building tools in civic education, civic engagement , campaign management and leadership development”.
“We keep saying Black Lives Matter, but we keep protesting,” McCall said. “It’s literally in every city, replicated across the country. It’s UN-USA.”
Socialism and Liberation Party spokesman Riley Petro said that Call by city officials to defuse Jayland Walker protests Friday was a cynical gesture.
The appeal from Mayor Dan Horrigan, Police Chief Steve Mylett and local pastors came after the deaths of Journei Tolbert, 4, and Johnny L. Gaiter, 40, who were shot dead at a party family Friday night.
Police, who said they had no suspects as of early Saturday, said the deaths were unrelated to the protests.
“Obviously the death of someone so young is a tragedy, and I think it’s awful that city officials are exploiting this to try to undermine people’s freedom of speech,” he said. Petro said. “Akron police have done everything they can to quell the protests so far with curfews and arrests of people who really haven’t broken any laws.”
One of the protesters in the audience was Alexis Jerels, who lives on Princeton Street, where Friday’s shooting took place. His daughter was Journei’s playmate.
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In a press release responding to criticism of how officers are treating protesters, Mylett said: “We have received death threats with the release of information about officers. We have received information from the FBI about extremists violent people coming to our city and posing as residents protesters to perpetuate the violence.
“These are not excuses, but the reality of what our Akron police officers and our community are currently facing. We understand that the ODA has an extremely important role to play in creating, maintaining and promoting peace in our city, in addition to their high priority of protecting public safety.We are determined to achieve these objectives and to defuse the strong tensions that exist.
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Walker’s cousin, Demetrius Travis Sr., was also present at the protest.
“Akron was previously, at least recently, known for the great things that LeBron James did, but now it’s marred by, in my opinion, my cousin’s execution,” he said. “It’s a very devastating story.”
After the speeches, the group walked up University Avenue to Union Park, where other speakers waited to address the crowd.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at [email protected] and Molly Walsh at [email protected]