AKRON, Ohio — City council leaders are calling for a Day of Mourning on Wednesday, July 13, the day of Jayland Walker’s funeral services.
Council President Margo Sommerville, Vice President of Council Jeff Fusco and Pro-Temp Mike Freeman asked Mayor Dan Horrigan to create the city-wide day of mourning following Friday evening’s shooting.
In a written statement, Sommerville said as a funeral director she sees death every day.
“And while death is inevitable for us all, I am sickened and saddened by the premature and tragic loss of life that is pervasive in Akron, especially among our young people,” she wrote.
Sommerville’s statement continued on to say that since Jayland Walker’s death, three additional Akron residents succumbed to injuries sustained from senseless gun violence.
The three leaders signed an agreement stating the lives of Jayland Walker, Chelsey Jones, 26, Johnny Gaiter, 40, and 4-year-old Journei Tolbert mattered.
“The senseless loss of life is rampant and tragic no matter who pulls the trigger,” Sommerville said. “As a city, we need time to process and express grief and heal. A City-Wide Day of Mourning will be an excellent beginning, but healing takes time and tangible actions.”
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett, in a separate statement, addressed criticisms on how officers interacted with protesters in the past week.
“I’ve heard the calls for concern at the way Akron police have responded to recent demonstrations,” Horrigan wrote in a statement. “I’ve seen the videos and I understand that concern. I want the community to know that I am fully committed to de-escalating the tension in our city.”
Horrigan said Mylett and himself have had “ongoing conversations” about the city’s approach and role in de-escalating.
“As we call for peace, we understand that call applies to all of us,” Horrigan wrote. “I’m hopeful that we can all come to the table and begin to have the necessary conversations to create forward progress for our city.”
Mylett wrote that officers have received death threats with personal information being shared online.
“We’ve gotten news from the FBI about violent extremists coming to our city and posing as resident demonstrators in order to perpetuate violence,” Mylett wrote. “These are not excuses, but the reality of what our Akron police officers and our community are currently facing.”
Mylett echoed the mayor’s call for peace in the city.
“We understand APD has an extremely important part to play in creating, maintaining, and promoting peace in our city, in addition to their top priority of protecting public safety. We are committed to those goals and to de-escalating the high tensions that exist.”