More than 36 hours after police in Akron, Ohio rioted against anti-police violence protesters Sunday night, leading to significant injuries and mass arrests, multiple protesters had yet to be arraigned and remained imprisoned at the Summit County jail.
Driven by fears of a wider social explosion, the arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters is an attempt by the Democratic mayor of Akron and the fascistic Akron Police Department to send a message to the entire working class of the city and beyond—the cops, the front-line defenders of capitalism, are free to murder workers with impunity, and those who object will be met with force and imprisoned indefinitely.
Over 100 protesters demonstrated outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Sunday night after Akron police begrudgingly released carefully edited body camera footage confirming that at least eight Akron police officers participated in the murder of unarmed Jayland Walker, who was attempting to flee from police on June 27 following a still unexplained traffic stop.
The footage released by the police shows that Walker suffered at least 60 wounds, confirmed by an autopsy, after police fired more than 90 rounds at him, a majority of them finding their target well after Walker had collapsed on the pavement after the first barrage.
On Sunday night, prior to purposefully targeting peaceful protesters with tear gas, Akron police telegraphed their assault by illuminating a floor of the police headquarters with a “thin blue line” of lights. The “thin blue line” is a fascist symbol that has been embraced by police departments around the country.
To justify the brutal murder of Walker, police have claimed that he fired a gun from inside his vehicle while attempting to flee from them. However, the Walker family has disputed this claim.
One of the Walker family’s lawyers, Bobby DiCello, has revealed that the initial medical examiner report he saw noted that the gun found in Walker’s car was originally located by police in the back seat. DiCello has also emphasized that there were no bullet holes in Walker’s vehicle and that police have yet to confirm that the gun they recovered from inside the vehicle was ever fired.
While not a single one of the eight Akron police officers who participated in the brutal slaying of the 25-year-old Walker has been arrested, much less even identified, more than a week after the killing, Akron police reported that at least 49 people were arrested during Sunday night’s protests.
Following the police riot, the Democratic mayor of Akron, Dan Horrigan, solidarized himself with the murderous police department, blaming protesters for “violence” and implementing a multi-block curfew that covered several downtown city blocks. The curfew prevents anyone from being outside between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the downtown area, which encompasses not only the police station and the University of Akron, but several hospitals, including Akron Children’s Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
On Tuesday, Mayor Horrigan announced that the curfew would be extended through the night, but that he planned on lifting the curfew at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning after there were no significant arrests or incidents on Monday.
“The community respected the curfew which we put in place last night and did not further damage our downtown corridor,' Horrigan said Tuesday. “I expect tonight to be the same. In an effort to support all those who are peacefully protesting, I plan to lift the curfew in our downtown footprint starting tomorrow.”
To enforce the curfew Monday, the Akron Police Department deployed snipers on rooftops, armored personnel carriers and some 50 riot police. Social media video shows militarized police operating in nondescript vans, seeking to “disappear” those who allegedly violate the curfew.
The utilization of police snatch squads, likely federal agents, mirrors police-state actions taken at the direction of then-President Donald Trump in Portland, Oregon following protests against the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.
The fact that these antidemocratic measures are occurring under Democratic President Joe Biden, who has showered the police with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, shows the bankruptcy of those who propose any electoral or reformist solution to the problem of police violence, a symptom of the advanced decay of the capitalist system. The police are an instrument of class rule, and there is no more reforming them there there is reforming the CIA or “pushing” the Democratic Party “to the left.”
On Tuesday, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that “dozens” of people were arraigned on misdemeanor charges, including failure to disperse, rioting and disorderly conduct. Of those arraigned, the Beacon Journal reported that 44 were released on either signature bond or several-hundred-dollar bond amounts, such as $250.
However, several protesters have yet to be arraigned after multiple judges, according to the parent of one protester, refused to come into work on Tuesday. In an interview captured by @ComradeOhio, a member of Serve the People Akron, the parent of one jailed protester revealed that not only are protesters being denied visitation rights and medications, but that several arraignments scheduled for Wednesday morning were canceled after multiple judges no-showed.
“They have closed the jail,” said the mother of a jailed protester. “She was supposed to be arraigned, but the judges decided not to show.” The mother continued, saying that the “court’s website says the arraignment was supposed to be for 8 a.m. this morning,” but that when she called to confirm, she was told that “the judges, not the judge, the judges, decided not to show.”
@ComradeOhio also filmed the mother of jailed protester Marquise Finley attempting to contact her imprisoned son outside the jail Tuesday. In the conversation with jail personnel, the mother states that her son has not been afforded a phone call, even though he has been detained for more than 24 hours.
“He was supposed to have medication last night, this morning, this afternoon,” Finley’s mother told the jail operator. “He needs his medication, he has autism... he is being held in the wrong facility,” she said.
While the parents of jailed protesters attempt to contact and free their children, in a report on Tuesday, CNN confirmed that the Akron police did handcuff Walker after executing him. Not only did they handcuff him, the police left Walker cuffed well after he died.
Citing the medical examiner’s report, CNN noted that “Walker was handcuffed behind his back when his body arrived at the coroner’s office.”
CNN claimed that the medical examiner’s report showed several photos of Walker dead and handcuffed at the parking lot. The photos show “dozens of gunshot wounds from his ankle to his cheek on both sides of his body.”
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