Akron to Lift Downtown Curfew, 49 Arrested in Sunday Night Jayland Walker Protests

Map of downtown Akron curfew zone. - Google Maps / Courtesy City of Akron
Google Maps / Courtesy City of Akron
Map of downtown Akron curfew zone.

The City of Akron has lifted its overnight curfew after multiple days of protests over the police killing of 25-year-old Jayland Walker.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan declared a state of emergency Monday and instituted the 9 p.m. - 6 a.m. curfew that he said would be in effect until announced otherwise. Horrigan has said repeatedly that he supports residents' rights to peacefully assemble, but said he would not tolerate the destruction of property or violence.

That announcement came after demonstrations Sunday, when an afternoon march and rally became violent in the evening. Protesters broke windows, set dumpsters on fire and overturned street planters and other fixtures. 

The demonstrations followed the afternoon release of bodycam footage, which showed eight Akron police officers firing approximately 90 bullets at Walker, hitting him an estimated 60 times.  The shooting was the culmination of a brief car chase instigated when Walker fled from a traffic stop for a broken tail light. Officers heard what sounded like a gun shot during the pursuit and broadcast that shots had been fired. A handgun was found in Walker's vehicle, but he was unarmed when he was shot to death by police as he fled from them on foot in a parking lot. 

According to live reporting by the Akron Beacon Journal Sunday night, police officers fired tear gas cannisters into the crowd and issued orders to disperse. Many protesters tried to discourage those seeking to destroy property, in accordance with the Walker family's wishes. (Among the windows broken were those of the AES Building, where the Beacon Journal is located.) 

Forty-nine people were arrested for their participation in the demonstrations. The ABJ reported that many of them were arraigned in Akron Tuesday and deposited — to the anger of the community — at locations all over town after posting bail.

Protesters gathered at the Summit County jail Tuesday evening  in a "noise demonstration" to voice solidarity with those who remained in the jail. Abbey Marshall, on scene for the ABJ, reported that SWAT vehicles arrived after nightfall, and officers deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd, even though the jail did not fall within the downtown Akron curfew zone.

Horrigan announced yesterday that "absent additional safety concerns," he would terminate the curfew Wednesday morning. 

“I want to again thank all those who have protested peacefully in our community over the last several days," he said in a statement. "Citizens have a right to make their voices heard, and I fully support that. The community respected the curfew which we put in place [Monday] and did not further damage our downtown corridor. I expect [Tuesday] to be the same. In an effort to support all those who are peacefully protesting, I plan to lift the curfew in our downtown footprint starting tomorrow. As always, public safety remains our top priority and I urge our community to report any instances or threats of violence or destruction so that a small group of agitators does not cause further damage to our city and small businesses.”

A City of Akron spokeswoman confirmed to Scene Wednesday that the curfew had indeed been lifted.  Horrigan released a statement, once again thanking those who had protested peacefully. He said that those arrested Sunday were engaged in criminal behavior. "They were becoming violent with officers and disrupting the peace which the community has been urging throughout this difficult time in our city," he said. "These individuals do not represent the larger gathering of peaceful protests and we won’t let them control the narrative of our community who are voicing their concerns."

The Cleveland Division of Police, responding to inquiries from Scene Tuesday, said that Akron did not request operational support for their protest response and that Cleveland sent no officers to assist on Sunday. 

***
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.