Some Akron businesses preparing for protests ahead of Jayland Walker grand jury

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Some businesses in Akron are boarding up windows and preparing to be closed if protests happen following the Jayland Walker grand jury proceedings.

Last summer, protests erupted in Downtown Akron after Walker was fatally shot by police during an attempted traffic stop in June. Investigators discovered Walker was unarmed when he was killed.

A grand jury is meeting next week to hear the evidence in Walker’s death. They will decide if any, or all, eight officers involved will be criminally charged.

“We’re just going to hope for the best,” Robert Palumbo, the manager at Grismer’s in Downtown Akron said. “We’re not going to overreact, but we are going to board up our windows and we’re going to make sure everything is safe.”

Palumbo hopes needed change for the community comes from this, so another life isn’t lost.

“I hope they do take a look at their police procedures, so this doesn’t happen over and over again,” Palumbo said.

The Akron Police Department released a statement to 19 News about how they are preparing for possible protests:

In general, we’re prepared to maintain a continuity of services to the community while respecting individuals right to lawfully protest (if any).

In recent weeks, we have meet with numerous citizens and community organizers, who have hosted community town hall conversations designed to answer questions and provide basic information ahead of the proceedings.

We will provide a safe place to demonstrate and extend any opportunity to meet with any community or organization leaders before or in the coming days or weeks.

In anticipation of possible unrest following the grand jury’s decision, Akron police have installed fencing around the courthouse and the mayor has reactivated the “Akron Updates” website.

The eight Akron police officers who were involved in the shooting were brought back to work in October 2022.

Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said the officers were needed due to staffing concerns and were reassigned to administrative duties.