Akron lifts curfew despite Jayland Walker protesters being dispersed by tear gas again

A pair of Summit County sheriff's deputies stand guard late Tuesday at intersection of Bellows and Crosier streets after protests over the shooting death of Jayland Walker by Akron police on June 27.

Akron ended its two-day downtown curfew Wednesday despite a late-night demonstration outside the county jail where Summit County sheriff's deputies used tear gas to disperse protesters.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan on Tuesday indicated that he planned to lift the curfew on Wednesday if there was no violence. Police arrested 49 people early Monday as a full day of protests ended in pockets of violence that left about 100 windows damaged downtown.

“The curfew was put in place due to safety concerns for our downtown corridor and our residents. What I want our residents and community to know, is that we aren’t arresting protestors who choose to peacefully protest," Horrigan wrote.

The protesters, who face misdemeanor charges, pleaded not guilty via video in Akron Municipal Court and many were released on either signature or very low bonds. Of 44 who made initial appearances in Akron Municipal Court on Tuesday, all but 10 listed Akron addresses.

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How Akron is encouraging peaceful Jayland Walker protests

Horrigan said city officials will do everything possible to accommodate peaceful protests resulting from the June 27 police shooting death of Jayland Walker, 25. Akron released video Sunday showing eight officers shot Walker about 60 times after a short chase from a traffic stop.

"Those who were arrested were engaged in criminal behavior. They were becoming violent with officers and disrupting the peace which the community has been urging throughout this difficult time in our city," Horrigan said. "These individuals do not represent the larger gathering of peaceful protests and we won’t let them control the narrative of our community who are voicing their concerns."

The curfew helped prevent any "significant" issues or arrests the first night, police said. There were no arrests outside the jail on Tuesday night where activists banged on pots and pans with wooden spoons, screamed into megaphones and waved flags declaring "no justice, no peace."

James Crawl, 25, waves a "No Justice No Peace" flag outside the Summit County Jail during a protests Tuesday over the shooting death of Jayland Walker by Akron police and the arrests of protesters over the July Fourth weekend. Crawl was a friend of Walker at Buchtel High School.

What was the 'noise demo' protest?

The so-called "noise demo" was to show those locked inside that they were not alone.

From inside their cells, several of the 49 activists who were arrested on charges stemming from violence over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in Akron pounded on their windows in response. Several had crafted signs to communicate with their fellow protesters. "I love you!" said one. "(expletive) APD" read another.

The demonstration outside the jail remained peaceful throughout the day, but tensions ramped up shortly after sunset.

According to sources and videos posted to social media, members of the Summit County SWAT team arrived in a SWAT vehicle with what appeared to be about a dozen other police vehicles.

When Beacon Journal reporters returned to the scene, officers blocked media access.

"We were having a peaceful protest, the next thing I know, they throwing tear gas at us," James Crawl, a former wrestling teammate of Walker's, told the Beacon Journal.

The jail is located outside the curfew zone.

The sheriff's department said as many as 75 people were protesting and banging on doors at one point outside the jail. The decision to use tear gas was made because protesters were disrupting jail operations, a spokesman said.

"It was affecting the operating of the jail and that was upsetting the inmates," said Bill Holland, public information officer. "The inmates inside the jail were becoming agitated."

Protesters were given several orders to disperse, he said. By the time tear gas was used, the crowd had shrunk in size, Holland said. "Everybody ended up leaving."

No injuries were reported, he said.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office dispatched a SWAT vehicle to the Summit County Jail in Akron late Tuesday night amid protests.

Calls for federal investigation in Akron police shooting of Jayland Walker

National and Akron NAACP officials are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the police shooting of Walker.

“We are asking for Department of Justice to come in,” said Akron NAACP President Judi Hill. “We want a consent decree from the state. We are looking for real change. And, so, we know it can't happen within. It hasn't happened to date.”

The NAACP demand for a federal review comes on the heels of locally elected Black officials in Summit County requesting DOJ involvement. The officials want more than the state of Ohio and the city of Akron to review the matter, which is being investigated internally by the Akron Police Department and, at the request of the chief of police, externally by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Hill called for changes to police procedure in Akron.

“What I'd like to see happen is that, first of all, any equipment violations should never lead to the death of anyone. That's number one," said Hill. "You go to Cleveland, you go anywhere, they take a picture of your license plates, and they send you a frickin’ ticket. Send me the ticket.”

An Akron police officer attempted to stop Walker on Tallmadge Avenue for what has been reported as a cracked taillight, non-working license plate light and an unspecified traffic violation. 

Seven seconds of shooting:What 13 police bodycam videos show in Jayland Walker's death

The officer pursued Walker onto state Route 8 where the sound of gunshot can be heard in his body-worn camera footage and a flash consistent with a muzzle blast was captured in the driver's side window of Walker’s silver Buick, according to a traffic camera from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Hill is also asking that the city revisit the ordinance it crafted on the prompt release of body-camera footage in deadly force cases. The law allows the city to cut the video off at the point of the shooting.

“What happened after that? Why is it stopped there during a situation like this? Because then you can see how the scene was handled completely. And so that's another concern for me,” Hill said.

Workers from Boiling House carry a piece of plywood to board up the windows on Monday in Akron. The restaurant was damaged during the escalated unrest in downtown after the release of bodycam videos of Jayland Walker's fatal shooting by police June 27.

Downtown Akron businesses hurting

Some businesses are reporting thousands of dollars in lost sales and damage following the violence.

Others say they were not hit so hard, but have concerns for the future of downtown's image as an entertainment destination.

Becca Bell, district manager for Jimmy John's sandwich shop at 371 S. Main St., said store employees decided to close at 9:30 a.m. Monday during a protest.

"It was kind of scary," she said. "When we closed, we had protesters outside the store, because there was a police officer out there."

Across the street, the popular Diamond Deli was celebrating its 25th year in business last weekend. The business announced Monday that although it had not suffered any damage, it would be closed all week and reopen Monday.

Crave restaurant, which reopened last week in a new downtown location, said its business had been impacted.

"I think the city of Akron has gone to the right lengths to prevent any more damage to the city down here," General Manager Aaron Francis told Beacon Journal partner News 5 Cleveland. "After seeing what's happened in other cities, I think it's the right thing to do."

He said the curfew may have cost Crave $2,000 to $3,000 per night, due to the requirement to close early and reduced traffic.

"Trying to get people to come back in and build back up is what we're trying to do," he said. "Trying to help rebuild everything is taking a step backwards. They're trying to turn downtown around and make it into a family place where you can go on the weekends, or even during the middle of the week.

"It's going to linger. People are going to be a little uneasy for a month or so after everything that happened," he said. "The peaceful protest, when it gets to damage and everything else, it's hurting the community. It's not showing anything else — it's just hurting the community."