Cleaning downtown Akron after the Gayland Walker protests overnight

Downtown Akron businesses were cleaning up Monday morning after protests turned violent after videos were released Sunday showing Akron police officers shooting and killing Gayland Walker.

Sunday night into Monday escalated the police response as some people smashed windows and set garbage fires during protests in the city center.

The escalation came after several days of peaceful protests, including a full day of rallies after police released body cam footage. Protesters also smashed windows in 2020 after a day of peaceful protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police.

Walker’s cousin, Demetrius Travis Sr., said in a statement that the Walker family does not condone the “violent protest.”

“We understand that people are angry and frustrated not only because of [the] Travis said the unprovoked murder of our dear Gayland Walker, but many other senseless killings of people of color by predominantly white officers across the country, but please we ask you to protest peacefully in the fight for justice for Gayland.”

During Sunday night’s protests, a person used a bat to break the windows of icebreakers in the city that are used to block streets. Several windows were smashed in the trucks.

Two garbage bags were set on fire near the streets of South Main and Church.

Some people threw water bottles and other items at the Harold K. Stubbs Center for Justice in South High Street.

The police also fired tear gas canisters into the crowds of protesters. Fleeing from the Justice Center and plumes of smoke, cars began to drive onto the sidewalk to get around snowplows that were parked near the city to block High Street. Some protesters fired smoke bombs in the streets.

A protester fired tear gas on Sunday as officers advanced in riot gear on Main South Street near University Avenue during protests in response to the shooting death of Gayland Walker.

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Demonstrators demanded calm and tried to keep the peace, expelling someone who was taking down a sign in the street.

“We have to respect the wishes of the Walker family,” Dafontay Winchester, one of the many organizers of the rallies earlier in the day, said Sunday night. “If you don’t come here to be peaceful and in solidarity, this is not the place for you.”

Damage escalated through the night, with many windows shattered from buildings along South Main Street.

Workers from the Boiling House carry a piece of plywood up to windows on Monday, July 4, 2022 in Akron, Ohio.  The restaurant has been damaged during escalating unrest downtown since Akron Police Authority camera footage of the fatal shooting of Gayland Walker was released by Akron Police last Monday.

Two windows at the Boiling House Seafood and Sushi Bar on West Exchange Street had shattered by the end of the night. Owner Jason Chen said each window would cost nearly $5,000 to replace. The restaurant will reopen on Tuesday. Chen put more wood on his existing windows to prevent further damage should tense protests resume.

Susie Graham, president and CEO of the Downtown Akron Partnership, said there was damage to 19 properties, with an estimated 101 broken doors and windows, as well as a broken pane of glass in a bus shelter.

“I am humbled and encouraged by the courage, perseverance and kindness of downtown today,” Graham said of realtors, businesses, city crew and construction workers. “In the face of the challenge, when anger and frustration are fully understandable, all I’ve seen is bliss. We are a lucky place to have such people.”

Ken Berry sweeps broken glass Monday at the entrance to the AES Building on South Main Street in Akron due to protesters the night before.

About 25 building windows and doors were broken in the AES building, which houses the Akron Beacon Journal office on the seventh floor. Workers from Taylor Cos. From Ohio secured panels of plywood over broken glass.

Windows are also broken at DaVinci’s Pizza, Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant, the former Karma Kafe, and a former location in downtown Bricco.

White Bear, the new owner of DaVinci Pizza, has owned the pizza shop since only Friday.

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