After demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man grew violent on Sunday night, the Ohio city of Akron issued a state of emergency on Monday, imposing a curfew and postponing Independence Day fireworks.
Protests erupted when police revealed body camera footage showing eight policemen firing at Jayland Walker, 25, as he attempted to flee a traffic check last week. Walker’s corpse was discovered with 60 bullet wounds.
The daytime protests on Sunday were calm, but after property was destroyed, Akron police declared an illegal assembly, despite the Walker family’s appeals. Officers in riot gear shot roughly a dozen tear gas canisters to disperse demonstrators, according to WKYC-TV.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan declared a curfew in force for downtown Akron from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice, and a pair of Fourth of July fireworks shows were also canceled.
“There was significant property damage done to downtown Akron. Small businesses up and down Main Street have had their windows broken. We cannot and will not tolerate the destruction of property or violence,” Horrigan said in a statement.
The Jayland Walker incident is the latest in a string of unarmed Black individuals killed by police, increasing concerns about police use of force and equal justice for African Americans while also contributing to rising divisiveness in the United States.
The Justice Department, including the Civil Rights Division and the FBI field office in Akron, is actively following and reviewing the circumstances surrounding Walker’s murder, according to White House spokesman Andrew Bates.
“This footage is disturbing,” Bates added. “And no family should ever have to endure the horrific pain and loss of a loved one that the Walker family is experiencing right now.”
According to police, Walker had a revolver in his vehicle but abandoned it on the front seat before fleeing on foot. Officers suspected he shot a bullet from inside the vehicle before escaping, and Walker was “moving into firing position” when he stepped out of his car, causing them to respond to him as a possible danger, according to Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett.
According to the Akron police chief, the eight officers directly engaged in the shooting have been put on paid administrative leave.