‘The problem is still here’; ChangeMakers react to Akron police shooting

ChangeMakers react to Akron shooting
ChangeMakers react to Akron shooting(WPTA21)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 7:21 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Protests are erupting in Akron, Ohio after 25-year-old Jayland Walker was shot and killed by police. A group in Fort Wayne called ChangeMakers says the community is feeling the effects.

Officials in Akron, Ohio, released body camera video of Jayland Walker. Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett hosted a press conference Sunday where the footage was shown.

Police said a short chase began when a man, later identified as Walker, did not pull over for a traffic stop. According to police, Walker fired a gun from the vehicle before he jumped out and fled. Mylett confirmed new details Sunday, including that Walker was unarmed when eight officers shot at him. He also said investigators found a gun inside Walker’s vehicle following the chase.

Akron police later confirmed he was unarmed when he was shot and killed.

“It’s been extremely traumatizing to watch the footage,” Daylana Saunders said. “It’s different to see it but to hear the shots. "

Daylana Saunders and Alisha Rauch are co-founders of the group ChangeMakers, they say when they watched the body cam footage they were shocked.

“This doesn’t happen to white people in America, we really need to figure out something because people are tired,” Saunders said. “We are tired. We are tired of protesting. We are tired of watching these videos.”

People in Akron are protesting after Walker’s death and they say it feels all to familiar, once again bringing attention to excessive use of force in police departments across the country. Rauch and Saunders say the problem still exists in Fort Wayne, even after the George Floyd protests that happened in the city back in 2020.

“Here in Fort Wayne, we’ve been actively fighting for three years now hoping this doesn’t happen in our city,” Rauch said. “Those protests were traumatizing. Seeing them again online feels so real. It shows in many ways. It brings back flashbacks of what happened, why were at the protests here in Fort Wayne.”

After the 2020 protests, Mayor Tom Henry formed the Commission on Police Reform to address the problems but Saunders says there hasn’t been enough focus on the initiative. She says she’s hoping Mayor Henry focuses more on that in his upcoming run for a 5th term in office.

Rauch says it’s also important for people to take care of their mental health during incidents like this, she says if anyone needs anything they can help.

According to Mylett, the department does not yet know the number of bullets fired, but the medical examiner’s report suggests there were over 60 wounds to Walker’s body.

The officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

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