LeBron James is praying for his hometown of Akron, Ohio, tonight. The Los Angeles Lakers star sent out a tweet Sunday afternoon (July 3), just moments before bodycam footage of officers fatally shooting Jayland Walker went public.
“I 🙏🏾 for my city!” wrote the four-time NBA Championship winner. In the past, James has used his platform to highlight injustices enacted upon the Black community. Walker, 25, was shot over 60 times a week ago by Akron police. Footage released today showed the moments leading up to his June 27 demise. Walker was involved in two short pursuits — in a vehicle, and on foot — with officers before being shot at more than 90 times in a parking lot.
Akron Police Chief Stephen Meylett said, officers at the scene thought Walker was armed. It was determined after the fact that he was unarmed during the gunfire. Officers did, however, find a loaded weapon in the passenger seat of his vehicle. The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office classified Walker’s death as homicide.
I 🙏🏾 for my city today!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 3, 2022
By family and friends, Walker is remembered as a good person. “We just want everyone to know who Jayland was,” Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, Walker’s aunt, told The Akron Beacon Journal. “We don’t want him to be portrayed as some thug.” He worked as a Door Dasher, and was known for his “good spirit.”
Outraged citizens have instead called his death an assassination. Akron, a city of just over 200,000 people, braced for demonstrations. By early Sunday evening, SWAT teams were assembled near the city’s justice center. Demonstrators in the area have been heard chanting, “go away racist cops,” and yelling at armed officers. Some demonstrators have signs that read, “#WeAreDoneDying,” and “say their name.” The latter was a reoccurring theme among protestors two summers ago as civil unrest broke out across the country following the police killing of George Floyd.
SWAT teams are now at the #JaylenWalker protests in Akron, guarding the police station. They are trying to display an intimidating presence….
It doesn't look like it's working pic.twitter.com/U9IJ4BSN7o
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) July 3, 2022
Reportedly, thousands of demonstrators moved throughout downtown Akron throughout the day. At times several streets have been blocked by demonstrators. Walker’s death marks the third police shooting in the past six months. The eight officers who fired their weapons have been placed on paid administrative leave. A federal state investigation into the shooting is also underway.
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