Saturday, April 20

Akron protesters gather at justice center, disperse Monday night

Monday’s question of the day seemed to be, “Where is everybody?”

That was the common phrase among the few protesters found in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron.

Protesters are pictured through a torn American flag during a demonstration for Jayland Walker outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Monday.

The recent killing of Jayland Walker, who was shot 60 times by Akron police on June 27, has sparked days of mostly peaceful but sometimes violent protesting throughout the city.

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Lone protester Jillian Smith stands in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in Akron on Monday.

At one point Monday, Jillian Smith was the only protester in the area. Smith is the manager at Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Center in Highland Square, one of the few Black-owned bookstores in Ohio. She said the bookstore’s other employees would be joining her later.

“We specialize in carrying Black writers and marginalized writers … those books are what we need to be reading right now because those are the books that are teaching white people to unlearn (false narratives).”

Protesters march Monday on Howard Street in Akron over the police shooting of Jayland Walker.

Protest at Mayor Dan Horrigan’s home

That afternoon it seemed like “everybody” was outside of Mayor Dan Horrigan’s home. At least 100 armed and unarmed people were at the protest, and at least two of them were arrested. Protest organizers were making plans to bail them out of jail once the march came to an end.

Protesters march Monday on Howard Street in Akron over the police shooting of Jayland Walker.

The protest was organized by The Freedom Black Led Organizing Collaborative (BLOC), a local organization that aims 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.

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At first protesters congregated at the intersection of Tallmadge Avenue and North Howard Street, then made their way down Howard Street to Horrigan’s home. They then returned to the Family Dollar Store on Howard Street, where the The Freedom BLOC’s executive director, Raymond Greene, gave a speech.

Raymond Green Jr., executive director of The Freedom BLOC, talks with protesters Monday after marching along Howard Street in Akron.
A protester calls for justice for Jayland Walker during a demonstration held outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Monday.

Evening crowd dispersed before curfew

Around 7:30 pm Monday, the scene was peaceful as about 75 people were gathered at the Justice Center just 90 minutes before a city-ordered downtown curfew was to go into effect.

“We’re tired of being murdered,” said MJ Ross, an 18-year-old Akron resident. “We will escalate if our demands are not met.”

Those demands, issued by Freedom BLOC on Saturday, include action items such as prosecuting the officers involved and installing dash cameras in every police vehicle. Ross said they are looking for nonviolent ways to increase pressure on the city, but said they will not “lay down and take it.”

The Akron SWAT team stands on the front step of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Monday.

Police surveyed the scene from a nearby rooftop as other officers inside geared up. Protesters taunted the cops on the roof, telling them to jump and calling them “guilty murderers.”

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