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COLOR OF CHANGE AND THE FREEDOM BLOC DELIVER PETITION OF NEARLY 60,000 SIGNATURES DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FROM AKRON, OHIO LEADERS AND POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR JAYLAND WALKER’S MURDER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2022

CONTACT: media@colorofchange.org 

COLOR OF CHANGE AND THE FREEDOM BLOC DELIVER PETITION OF NEARLY 60,000 SIGNATURES DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FROM AKRON, OHIO LEADERS AND POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR JAYLAND WALKER’S MURDER 

AKRON, OHIO – Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, and The Freedom BLOC, an organization that works to build Black political power in Akron, Ohio will deliver a petition this Wednesday, signed by nearly 60,000 individuals across the country, to the Department of Police in Akron demanding transparency and accountability for the murder of Jayland Walker. 

“Jayland Walker, like many Black Americans before him, would still be alive today had the police not cut his life tragically short,” said Sakira Cook, co-interim Vice President, Color Of Change. “We cannot willfully accept these shattering tragedies as part of life in this country — , it is imperative that we continue to come together to uplift our voices and demand justice and liberation from the white supremacist infrastructures that harm Black people. Yet, for far too long, our demands following these horrific killings have been met with silence from lawmakers. We call on all elected officials to protect our right to freedom of speech, to assemble, and to make the proper investments in our communities and divestment from police-based public safety solutions.” 

“Protestors in Akron are still being detained and criminalized to the full extent of the law. Moreover, prosecutors are escalating charges from “disorderly conduct” to riot charges as a result of Ohio's House Bill 109,” said Ray Greene Jr, Executive Director of The Freedom BLOC.”The officers who murdered Jayland Walker are still on paid leave, and no real long term or short team solutions have been offered. That’s why we must hold Akron leaders accountable and are calling on the Department of Justice to start an immediate investigation into the actions of the Akron police department.”  

The petition has nearly 60,000 signatures and, alongside demanding transparency from elected officials, calls specifically for elected leaders to: 

  • Abolish the use of tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets in Akron City Code section 35.17;  
  • Immediately release all protesters from jail, drop all charges against them, expunge their records, remove all fines and fees and order the Akron Police Department to stop arresting protesters;   
  • Create and fund an unarmed traffic enforcement unit for routine traffic stops, a separate unit that responds to mental health calls, and programs that prioritize violence prevention;  
  • Create a citizen-led commission to study and strategize reallocating funds from the Akron Police Department to violence prevention and essential services;  
  • Prioritize investments in what keeps Black communities safe, including reparations, housing, public transportation, food security, health care and community-controlled public safety alternatives.

Following the murder of Jayland Walker, residents of Akron were met with further violence when protesting for justice and accountability. Residents were arrested and were met with rubber bullets and tear gas from local police. 

The delivery of the petition, on Justice for Jayland Walker Day, is a part of The Freedom BLOC’s Justice for Jayland: Week of Action, running from Sunday, August 21st to Sunday, August 28th. A week of events with the purpose of demanding justice for Jayland and building relationships within the community to grow community consciousness through political education, actions, leadership development, and civic engagement.

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ABOUT COLOR OF CHANGE

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and governments to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org

ABOUT THE FREEDOM BLOC

The Black Led Organizing Collaborative (BLOC) was created to build Black political power and to equip the Black community with capacity building tools through civic education, civic engagement, campaign management and leadership development that will ignite and foster greater electoral turnout in Cleveland, Columbus, as well as our historical urban centers in Northeast (Youngstown and Akron). BLOC is the vehicle for collective political expression, educating the Black electorate and the broader Black community on issues impacting their lives and mobilizing them to turnout to vote on issues and candidates that support and enforce equitable policies for Black Ohioans. 

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