More than 100 people gathered in front of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Wednesday to protest the police killing of 25-year-old Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio on June 27.
The gathering was followed by a march that partially blocked Flatbush Avenue and Tillary Street, and eventually made its way over the Brooklyn Bridge. The rally was organized by Riders for Black Lives, an organization dedicated to organizing peaceful protests through the streets of multiple cities across the country.
Walker — an unarmed Black DoorDash delivery driver with no criminal record — was chased by police after a traffic stop and shot 60 times. According to the Akron police chief, the routine stop could have resulted in a warning or a citation. The eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave as an investigation into Walker’s killing continues.
Following the release of videos of the incident taken by police body cameras, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Akron to demand justice and call for an end to police violence. The Walker family urged for marches — which soon began to unfold across the country — to remain peaceful.
On July 6, members of Rise and Resist — an action group committed to opposing government acts that “threatens democracy, equality, and civil liberties” — joined protesters young and old as they stood outside the borough’s main sports arena to share testimonies of police force and abuse on communities of color.
“The brutality is unbelievable,” said 60-year-old Carol Widom. “It’s one thing after the other and we have to keep demanding accountability.”
Widom, who identifies as Latina, participated in the George Floyd protests that swept the city two summers ago. At the rally for Walker, Widom said she supports the community with hopes that her children and grandchildren won’t have to go through the systematic violence that has mainly targeted Black people.
“It affects everyone and if we don’t stand together, it will be too late,” she said.
More than 1,000 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year alone, according to The Washington Post. And though Black Americans account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, they are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans — and most of those victims are young men.
Protesters on Wednesday called for a greater investment in mental health resources and gun violence prevention initiatives.
“We don’t want the police at every corner,” Stacy Richards told the crowd. “They keep the same narrative. They say crime is up and shootings occur because of mental health issues. OK, granted, but then they make guns available and don’t invest in social programs.”