Akron Curfew Adjusted After Peaceful Weekend Protests, Organizers Demand Demilitarized Police Response

Horrigan says names of officers who shot Walker will not be released

click to enlarge Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan - Screenshot / City of Akron Zoom Webinar
Screenshot / City of Akron Zoom Webinar
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan

In the first of a series of daily press conference in the aftermath of the Jayland Walker shooting and ongoing demonstrations in Akron, Mayor Dan Horrigan said that a downtown curfew has been adjusted and will now be in effect from 11 p.m. through 5 a.m.

Horrigan said that moving back the curfew — it had previously begun at 9 p.m. — was in part to support downtown Akron establishments that had lost business due to the curfew and in part because the largely peaceful demonstrations have not justified an earlier start time.   

Protests began in earnest last Sunday, after officials released bodycam footage of eight Akron police officers firing approximately 90 bullets at the 25-year-old Walker, who was fleeing on foot after a traffic stop and brief car chase. Walker died on scene, with approximately 60 bullet wounds.

The footage was released in accordance with city law.  Demonstrations have been ongoing, but after the first night, in which windows were broken along Akron's Main Street and 49 protesters were arrested, the events have been more subdued. Police Chief Steve Mylett estimated that seven protesters were arrested on Monday and that  no arrests had been made thereafter. 

Monday morning, Horrigan and Mylett said that they released the footage last Sunday as required by city law and tried to do so as respectfully as possible. They denied that they had tried to vilify Walker in their narrative. Both once again expressed condolences to the Walker family and said they'd met this weekend with faith leaders and other community groups to discuss the city's response and the path forward.

"The only way this community can heal," Horrigan said, "is together, moving forward and having necessary, hard conversations that necessitate hard change."

Organizations in Akron that have helped coordinate demonstrations, including Freedom BLOC, Akron Democratic Socialists of America and Serve the People Akron, have released a list of 12 demands in response to the shooting. The groups want to establish an independent truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Walker's death and have called on the police to release the names of the officers involved, and to immediately fire and prosecute them.  Horrigan and Mylett said Monday that the names of the officers would not be released.

Though the Akron demonstrations have been largely peaceful, the police response has been marked by military vehicles, tear gas and pepper spray.  The organizers' demands called for a codified prohibition on these tactics and the demilitarization of police who are deployed to work at protests and assemblies.

Mayor Horrigan, responding to a question about the demands, said that he looked forward to meeting with the groups and was working with Department of Justice to help facilitate a dialogue. But he would not unilaterally agree to demands, he said, before meeting with those making them. 

The lawyers for Walker's family will host a press conference Monday afternoon, alongside local faith leaders and others, to call for an immediate end to the "aggressive, violent tactics" being used by the Akron police against protesters and calling for the city's curfew to be lifted.

Daily press briefings have been scheduled every day this week except Wednesday, when the city, pending City Council approval, will honor Walker with a formal day of mourning. Services for Walker will be held Wednesday as well.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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