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To: Ohio elected officials, Department of Justice

We demand justice for Jayland Walker

Just days before July 4, police in Akron, Ohio, brutally executed Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man. In solidarity with his family, the Akron community, and The Freedom BLOC, we demand transparency and accountability from Akron’s elected officials, as well as a full independent investigation.

Akron's city and elected officials must immediately end the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and excessive force against protesters demanding justice for Jayland, and release all protesters from jail, expunge their records and eliminate all fines and fees.

Akron must fund an unarmed traffic enforcement unit, a separate unit to respond to mental health calls and programs that prioritize violence prevention. The city must also invest in real, community-led public safety solutions, that keep Black communities safe, such as housing, public transportation, food security, health care, reparations and community-controlled public safety alternatives.

Why is this important?

On June 27, Jayland Walker was pulled over for an alleged “traffic and equipment violation.” Eight Akron Police Department officers shot at Jayland more than 90 times in seven seconds. Jayland suffered 60 gunshot wounds. Then the same officers who murdered him handcuffed his lifeless body. The police bodycam footage reveals eight cops killed a Black man while five officers stood by and watched.

Our hearts break for Jayland’s family and the Akron community. Jayland was a young man with a family and a bright future, a human who deserved to be treated with dignity. Instead, Akron police murdered him. The officers who fired more than 90 shots at Jayland are on paid administrative leave.

As we mourn and turn our outrage into action, this moment requires us to recognize a painful truth: The police murder of Jayland Walker is not an anomaly. We’ve been here before.

• In South Carolina, Walter Scott was stopped by police for a non-functioning brake light.

• In Michigan, Patrick Lyoya was stopped for improper vehicle registration.

• Just outside Minneapolis, where police murdered George Floyd, Daunte Wright was pulled over for minor traffic violations and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

All of these Black men were murdered by police during routine traffic stops. In a country where armed, militarized police are the response to every incident and crisis — and Black people are viewed as threats, not human beings — Black people aren’t issued tickets or citations; we receive death sentences.

Now, as Jayland’s family and neighbors take to the street to demand justice, the Akron Police Department has initiated a terror campaign against protesters and journalists. From tear gas and rubber bullets to false imprisonment, Akron police have waged war against people demanding justice for Jayland as demonstrated by the violent arrests of Bianca Austin, the aunt of Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake. Police terrorism continues to target Black and Indigenous communities. And when people stand up to protest police brutality, cops douse them with chemical weapons and beat them with batons.

This is who the police are, and dehumanizing and terrorizing Black people is what they’re paid to do. The murder of Jayland Walker and the violent police response in Akron are just the latest cruel examples of what happens when elected officials prioritize policing over investments that actually keep communities safe.

That’s why we’re standing with The Freedom BLOC to demand Akron’s elected officials:

1. Protect protesters: Immediately end the use of tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.

2. Stop arresting protesters and free those who have been detained: Immediately release all protesters from jail, expunge their records and remove all fines and fees.

3. Create and fund an unarmed traffic enforcement unit for routine traffic stops.

4. Invest in community-led public safety solutions. Invest in what keeps Black communities safe, including reparations, housing, public transportation, food security, health care and community-controlled public safety alternatives.

According to Mapping Police Violence, Black people are 4.9 times more likely to be killed by police than white people in Ohio. And when we protest police violence, we become the next target of police brutality. We must take action to end this vicious cycle.

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Updates

2022-07-17 13:29:58 -0400

20,000 signatures reached

2022-07-16 22:01:58 -0400

10,000 signatures reached

2022-07-16 20:32:16 -0400

5,000 signatures reached

2022-07-15 18:36:54 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2022-07-14 19:45:18 -0400

500 signatures reached

2022-07-14 13:17:32 -0400

100 signatures reached

2022-07-14 13:09:42 -0400

50 signatures reached

2022-07-14 13:05:16 -0400

25 signatures reached

2022-07-13 13:08:54 -0400

10 signatures reached