Following protests on Sunday night in Akron, Ohio, over the death of Jayland Walker, who police killed last week after allegedly leading them on a chase and shooting at them, city officials on Monday canceled the Fourth of July fireworks show, set a curfew, and declared a state of emergency.
“Early yesterday, we had several peaceful protests in the downtown footprint related to the officer-involved shooting of Jayland Walker,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (D) said in a statement.
“These protests did not escalate to violence and destruction.”
Horrigan thanked the protestors and reiterated he fully supports Akron residents’ right to peacefully assemble, which he and other community leaders urged protesters to do since police released video footage of Walker’s death on Sunday.
“However,” he continued. “As night fell and others began to join, the protests became no longer peaceful.”
Downtown Akron experienced significant property damage with rioters breaking windows on small businesses on the city’s main drag.
“We cannot and will not tolerate violence or the destruction of property,” Horrigan said. “In light of the damage that has occurred and in order to preserve peace in our community, I have declared a state of emergency, implemented a curfew, and canceled the fireworks which were scheduled for tonight.”
City officials issued a curfew for downtown Akron from 9:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m., which remains in effect until officials issue another order or lift the existing one. However, city authorities, news media, and authorized personnel are exempt from such orders. Those traveling to and from work, seeking medical care, or feeling dangerous circumstances are exempt from the city-issued emergency orders.
Three separate firework shows scheduled for tonight to celebrate America’s 246th year of independence in downtown Akron, The Patterson Sports Complex, and the Akron Fulton airport were all canceled tonight due to the state of emergency.
The announcement comes after Horrigan canceled the city’s annual Fourth of July Rib, White, & Blue Festival, scheduled to run through the holiday weekend. The festival was set to return this year after three years of hiatus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Journalist and Author Andy Ngô shared a series of video footage on Monday of Akron’s riots on Twitter.
“Overnight on July 3, violent far-left & #BLM rioters gathered in downtown Akron, Ohio with bats & started fires,” Ngô wrote. “They’re angry about the police shooting death of #JaylandWalker, an armed black man who led police on a wild car chase & shooting at them.”
On June 27, Akron authorities said they pursued Walker because the car he drove was involved in a crime the previous day. After refusing to stop, speeding through a residential neighborhood, and shooting at officers, Walker jumped out of the car in motion at a barricade.
Police said they fired up to 60 bullets at Walker after he jumped out of the moving vehicle and shot at the officers.
Although he did not have the gun with him as he ran, Police Chief Stephen Mylett said the video showed Walker reaching for something at his waist and turning as he ran, prompting the police to fire.
The Beacon Journal obtained an investigative worksheet by the medical examiner’s office, which reported officers shot Walker in the face, torso, and upper legs.
The report and video from the crime scene confirmed that Walker had a handgun in his silver Buick. The Akron Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement that traffic cameras had captured a muzzle flash from Walker’s car and that a shell casing had been found from the same location.
“This incident is a tragedy for our entire community, including the family of Jayland Walker, as well as all of the officers involved,” the Akron FOP said. “Many officers work their entire career without discharging their weapon. A split-second decision to use lethal force is one that every police officer hopes he or she will never be forced to make.”
The Akron chapter of the NAACP planned a march and rally downtown Sunday afternoon to coincide with the release of videos. Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker’s family, called the video “brutal.”
“It’s going to stir up some passion. It’s going to make people uneasy,” DiCello said ahead of the video’s release.
Greg Wilson contributed to this report.