Yesterday (July 13), Jayland Walker was laid to rest in Akron, Ohio. Hundreds of family, friends and mourners attended to pay their respects to the slain 25-year-old. Famed director Spike Lee was photographed leaving the heavily guarded service held at the Akron Civic Center. As previously reported by REVOLT, Walker died on June 27 after being shot over 60 times by police during a traffic stop.
While speaking at the service, Bishop Timothy Clarke, pastor of the First Church of God in Columbus, said, “We must not normalize this.” He continued, “We cannot make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age the normal thing … We must not try to act as if this is all right. This is not all right. There’s nothing right about this. We should not be here. And Jayland should not be in that box.” Walker’s service was live-streamed for those who could not physically be present. Clarke added, “I will not allow anyone to say, ‘God needed a flower and came and got Jayland.’ I’m not going to let you say that God wanted Jayland, and so he’s better off. Jayland would be better with his family, alive and loving, and we must not cheaply spiritualize what we cannot explain nor fully understand.”
Walker’s cousin Robin Elerick described him as soft-spoken, funny, sweet and “so authentically genuine,” according to CNN. There have been multiple protests in the weeks since Walker’s death, not only in Akron but in other parts of the country as well. In the wake of local protests, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan called in SWAT teams ahead of the Fourth of July weekend after bodycam footage revealed the horrific details of Walker’s death. Horrigan later declared a state of emergency and enforced a city-wide curfew. Independence Day events were also canceled.
During a remote daily briefing on Tuesday (July 12), the mayor shared that he would not be attending the funeral. “We don’t want to be any sort of distraction to Jayland and the mourning and the grief that his family is feeling,” he said. Walker’s supporters also held a gathering and asked the community to refrain from protesting for 48 hours to allow the family to bury their loved one in peace. “For 48 hours, until Jayland’s body is laid to rest, they ask that we not protest, we don’t go to the streets, and we won’t. For 48 hours, but I don’t want anyone to think that we should stop,” Judy Hill of the Akron NAACP said.