3 face court hearings as Jayland Walker protesters, Akron police dispute altercation

Three people charged with misdemeanors following a July 29 altercation in downtown Akron tied to Jayland Walker protests against police face court hearings later this month.

The three, two men and a woman from Akron, were arrested that Friday night by city police and charged with riot, failure to disperse, and misconduct at emergency, which are all misdemeanors, according to Akron Municipal Court records.

Protesters dispute at least part of the police version of what happened that night, which involved caravans of vehicles and people moving around and in some instances blocking intersections in the downtown and other parts of the city. Some protesters have alleged police set up an incident as an excuse to move in and disperse people on High Street near the police station.

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The Akron Beacon Journal filed a public records request for the Akron police report for the July 29 incident. The recently obtained report provided a police narrative of events, but the city has failed to provide an accident report for a minor crash that immediately preceded the arrests.

Police: 'Mob of protesters' in city

The police report described a "mob of protesters" in 20 to 30 vehicles moving around the city, blocking intersections, obstructing traffic, in some instances yelling at pedestrians, and more. The narrative starts at 7:21 p.m., when police say vehicles and individuals were blocking the intersection at East Archwood Avenue and Inman Street.

"Multiple males integrated in the group were seen wielding firearms, wearing black ski masks, and climbing in and out of vehicles blocking traffic," the report said in part. The report does not say that any guns were fired as part of the night's events.

The group then moved to Nesmith Lake Boulevard, between West Waterloo Road and Eckard Avenue, blocking off the street and chanting at an Akron City Council member's home, the report said.

Protesters then went downtown, where police said vehicles weaved in and out of traffic, drove on the wrong side of the road and failed to stop at intersections. The group stopped at Lock 3 and chanted while people attended a concert there and blocked the flow of traffic on South Main Street, the report said.

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Protesters next blocked people moving in and out of a parking deck at 51 W. State St., with some protesters trying to get to the backstage area of Lock 3, the report said.

"When security at Lock 3 refused protesters from entering on stage a verbal fight broke out and multiple threats were made by protesters toward security," the report said.

Traffic incident turns into fight

The Lock 3 protesters then joined with other protesters on State Street and drove "reverse of traffic" on South High Street in front of the Justice Center.

"Multiple protesters were observed picking up rocks on the ground and putting them in their garment pockets," the report said.

Protesters began blocking foot and vehicle traffic from leaving the Akron RubberDucks game that evening at the Polsky Parking Deck, police said.

At 10:06 p.m., Akron police said an accident in front of the Polsky parking deck turned into a fight, with multiple people huddled around a vehicle involved in the accident.

"They were observed by officers yelling at the occupant inside the vehicle," the report said.

Protesters dispute police narrative

Protesters posted on social media that the individual involved in the traffic incident is a city employee and alleged that he deliberately caused the incident to get police to respond.

The group Serve The People issued a press release saying a black Jeep collided with the rear-most vehicle in the caravan, and then eight police cruisers "swarmed the protesters."

Serve The People said protesters were peaceful and that police harassed them.

Akron police said protesters were told to leave that site as emergency services responded.

"Some protesters remained on scene and refused to disperse from the area," the police report said.

Police arrested and detained three Akron residents at that point while seizing their cell phones. Each is scheduled for different court hearings later this month, according to Akron Municipal Court.

Serve The People said it wants all charges dropped against the three and that the city employee from the crash needs to be immediately fired and charged in vehicle incident.

Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: 3 face court hearings in Jayland Walker protest dispute with police