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July 4th Events Canceled, Protests Over Police Murder Of Jayland Walker

Above Photo: Cristhy Sotres, right, of Akron leads a chant during a protest of the APD shooting of Jayland Walker in front of the Akron Police Department at the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center Friday afternoon in downtown Akron. Karen Schiely / Akron Beacon Journal.

NOTE: Also from the Beacon Journal: “The city of Akron is canceling its annual Rib, White and Blue Festival in the wake of a protest following the fatal shooting of a Black man by Akron police officers. Activists gathered in front of the Akron Police Department headquarters Thursday morning to protest the death of Jayland Walker, who was shot dead by police officers early Monday after a car chase. The protest disrupted traffic flow on South High Street after activists fanned out to block the road. The city announced it would close the street until Tuesday. The city and other organizations are opting to cancel and postpone several Downtown events in anticipation of escalating tension.”

Friday marks the third day of protests over the Akron police shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an Akron DoorDash driver who was killed by multiple shots following a police chase on Monday.

Previous protests were small, a couple dozen people. But as news of Walker’s death spread across the city and national organizations like Black Lives Matter took note, today’s protest downtown is expected to grow.

Reporters and photographers from The Akron Beacon Journal will be reporting live from today’s protest. Follow their reporting as it unfolds below.

The details surrounding Walker’s shootings remain unclear. Police have offered a general outline of what happened, saying officers tried to pull over Walker around 12:30 a.m. Monday in the city’s North Hill neighborhood for a traffic and equipment violation. Walker fled, and police chased him just more than 4 minutes across town to the Firestone Park area.

Along the way, police said Walker fired a gun before abandoning his vehicle in a parking lot near the Bridgestone Americas campus. Several officers and police cars arrived on the scene and at least some used stun guns to try to stop Walker before officers opened fire.

Police said they later found a gun in Walker’s vehicle.

A preliminary autopsy report showed Walker was shot in the face, abdomen and upper legs. It did not specify how many shots hit him, nor how many shots were fired. Police have declined to say, though some reports have said Walker was hit by dozens of bullets.

Akron police, who turned over the case to the state bureau of investigation, are expected to release police body camera video from the incident over the weekend. And the city on Thursday canceled its annual rib festival over July 4 weekend, saying it was no time to celebrate.

Walker’s family have said they want the community to know that Walker, who had no criminal record, never caused trouble.

“I know a lot of people like to say that their loved ones are good,” said Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, whom Walker called “Aunt Mini.” “But it’s the truth.

The family said it will settle for nothing less than justice and accountability.

5:27 p.m. Pastor Roderick Pounds tells a young boy with protesters in front of Akron Police Department that the group is protesting for him. “They shoot people like you,” Pounds tells the boy before hugging him tight, saying they will protect him.

5:20 p.m. Elizabeth Walters, Ohio Democratic Party chair who also serves as Summit County Council President, joins other elected officials, tweeting out a call for transparency in the investigation into the Akron police shooting of Jayland Walker.

5:18 p.m. The protest outside the Akron police department haz been small, but persistent all day. At dinner time, about 20 people continued to protest outside the High Street headquarters.

4:54 p.m. Some real conversation happened between a woman protesting outside the Akron police department and a man wearing shirt supporting police. At issue: “Are you in fear when you get pulled over?”

4:30 p.m. Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro tweets out a statement urging people to be patient as they await more information about the shooting of Jayland Walker.

1:30 p.m. Emily Baldridge explains the twin tragedies that have hit Jayland Walker’s family and friends. Walker’s fiance was killed in a traffic crash near Cincinnati about a month before Walker was killed by police. Baldridge, who worked with the woman, said what happened to her was an accident(a van she was riding in was rear-ended on I-71). What happened to Walker wasn’t an accident, Baldrige said, and Walker deserves justice.

1 p.m. Traffic is flowing freely downtown Akron, including on High Street where the protest in front of the police station continues. Snow plows, however, are parked nearby. The city has used the plows to block High Street to traffic during other unrelated protests in recent years.

12:46 p.m. Ohio State Sen. Vernon Sykes says he grieves with family. “I question how a traffic violation can lead to the death of a community member,” he said in a tweet thread, saying that the investigation into the shooting must be thorough, but released to the public as soon as possible.

12:35 p.m. Crowd outside Akron police station is small, but vocal. “What’s his name,” a woman asks in a shout. “Jayland Walker,” the others shout in reply. “Say his name,” the woman shouts. “Jayland Walker,” the others reply.

Noon: Protesters are expected to gather outside the Akron police department on High Street downtown.

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