(Black PR Wire) NEW YORK — 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, launched a petition to demand transparency and accountability for the murder of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot and killed on June 27 after being shot more than 60 times by Akron police during a routine traffic stop.
As residents demand justice and accountability for this senseless murder, the mayor of Akron has declared a “state of emergency” and local police have initiated a terror campaign against those protesting; rubber bullets and tear gas have been used to injure protesters, and Bianca Austin, the aunt of Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, were violently arrested by Akron Police. Color Of Change and The Freedom BLOC are demanding that Akron officials and police immediately end violent force and arrests against protesters, free those who have been detained and drop all charges, fines, and fees against them, and invest in community-led public safety solutions, including an unarmed traffic enforcement unit for routine traffic stops.
“The murder of Jayland Walker and the violent police response in Akron are inexcusable–just the latest cruel examples of what happens when elected officials prioritize investments in policing and criminalization, over community interventions and support,” said Sakira Cook, Co-Interim Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs at Color Of Change. ”The fact that we are still pulling people over for traffic stops as a pretense for searching people’s cars is not only illegal but has also proven to be deadly. We must end this practice immediately before we lose more lives, particularly Black lives. Without a new approach to policing and public safety broadly, policymakers keep taking us through the same cycle of violence; more militarization and surveillance, more prisons, and more Black people murdered by police. Yet, we are not deterred. Together, alongside our members and partners, we’ll continue to work to end our violent policing system, redefine public safety, and invest in Black communities.”
“Communities affected by gun-related trauma see community violence as a public health issue. We have the power as an electorate to demand that our leaders reexamine their approach to public safety. We need people in power who will protect our rights and freedoms. We must push elected officials to be inclusive of all voices in developing public safety solutions and be driven by community needs — not fear,” said Ray Greene Jr, Executive Director of The Freedom BLOC.
The petition, which has already reached more than 3,000 signatures, demands transparency from elected officials and specifically calls for local 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.
Given disparities in how white and Black protestors have been characterized since the incident, Color Of Change also offers a media guide with a set of recommendations for disrupting racial bias in protest coverage, entitled Anti-Racist Reporting and is encouraging members of the media to explore the language guide and helpful tips included.
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.