Downtown Akron cleaning up after protesters break 101 windows, doors overnight

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Downtown Akron businesses were cleaning up Monday morning after protests turned violent following the release of videos Sunday showing Akron police officers shooting and killing Jayland Walker.

Sunday night into Monday brought a night of escalated police response as some people broke windows and set dumpster fires during protests downtown.

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

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Demetrius Travis Sr., a cousin of Walker, said in a statement that the Walker family doesn't condone the "violent protest."

Wyatt Baer, the new owner of DaVinci's Pizza on South Main Street, enters his business to survey the damage from the protest of the police shooting of Jayland Walker Sunday night in Akron. Baer has only owned the pizza shop for two days.
Wyatt Baer, the new owner of DaVinci's Pizza on South Main Street, enters his business to survey the damage from the protest of the police shooting of Jayland Walker Sunday night in Akron. Baer has only owned the pizza shop for two days.

"We understand people are angry and frustrated not only with [the] senseless killing of our loved one Jayland Walker, but many other senseless killings of people of color at the hands of predominantly white officers across the nation, but please we ask that you protest peacefully in the fight to get justice for Jayland," Travis said.

During Sunday night's protests, one person used a bat to break windows of city snowplows being used to block off streets. Several windows were shattered in the trucks.

Two dumpsters were set on fire near South Main and Church streets.

Some people hurled water bottles and other objects at the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on South High Street.

Police also shot tear gas canisters into crowds of protesters. While fleeing from the Justice Center and the plumes of smoke, cars began driving on the sidewalk to get around snowplows parked by the city to block off High Street. Some protesters launched smoke bombs into the streets.

A protester runs through tear gas Sunday as officers in riot gear progress down South Main Street near University Avenue during protests in response to the shooting death of Jayland Walker.
A protester runs through tear gas Sunday as officers in riot gear progress down South Main Street near University Avenue during protests in response to the shooting death of Jayland Walker.

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Protesters called for calm and tried to keep the peace, kicking out a person who was pulling down a street sign.

"We have to honor the Walker family's wishes," Davontae Winchester, one of many organizers from the marches earlier in the day, said Sunday night. "If you did not come here to be peaceful and stand in solidarity, this is not the place for you."

The damage escalated overnight, with several windows of buildings along South Main Street broken.

Workers from Boiling House carry a piece of plywood to board up the windows on Monday, July 4, 2022 in Akron, Ohio. The restaurant was damaged during the escalated unrest in downtown since the release of the Akron Police body cam footage of Jayland Walker's fatal shooting by Akron Police on last Monday.
Workers from Boiling House carry a piece of plywood to board up the windows on Monday, July 4, 2022 in Akron, Ohio. The restaurant was damaged during the escalated unrest in downtown since the release of the Akron Police body cam footage of Jayland Walker's fatal shooting by Akron Police on last Monday.

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

Downtown Akron Partnership President and CEO Suzie Graham said there was damage at 19 properties, with an estimated count of 101 broken doors and windows, as well as a broken pane of glass in a bus shelter.

"I was humbled and encouraged by the courage, tenacity and kindness downtown today," Graham said of the property and business owners, city crews and construction workers. "In the face of challenge, when anger and frustration would have been completely understandable, all I saw was grace. We are a fortunate place to have such people in it."

Ken Beery sweeps up broken glass Monday at the entrance of the AES Building on South Main Street in Akron caused by protesters the night before.
Ken Beery sweeps up broken glass Monday at the entrance of the AES Building on South Main Street in Akron caused by protesters the night before.

About 25 windows and building doors were broken at the AES Building, which houses the Akron Beacon Journal office on the seventh floor. Workers from Taylor Cos. of Ohio secured sheets of plywood to the broken glass.

Windows were also broken at DaVinci's Pizza, Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant, the former Karma Kafe and the former downtown Bricco location.

Wyatt Baer, the new owner of DaVinci's Pizza, has only owned the pizza shop since Friday.

Baer, who lives in Cleveland Heights, said he woke up around 7 a.m. Monday and had several notifications from the camera system for the pizza shop. When he pulled up the cameras, he could see several broken windows. He drove to Akron.

The shop has three windows and a door broken out in the back, and a large window broken out in the front. Baer said nothing was taken, but he did find five "rocks/bricks/concrete-type pieces" that were used to break the windows, with glass everywhere.

Baer said some of the glass got in the shop's food and on the counters.

"I obviously can't serve that to anyone. I don't want anyone to get a piece of glass in their food," he said. "I've got to throw all that away. I've got to sanitize all my dishes and deep clean everything just to make sure nobody gets glass in anything.”

Wyatt Baer, the new owner of DaVinci's Pizza, talks on his phone after his business was damaged from the  Sunday night protest of the police shooting of Jayland Walker last Monday. Baer has only owned the pizza shop for two days.
Wyatt Baer, the new owner of DaVinci's Pizza, talks on his phone after his business was damaged from the Sunday night protest of the police shooting of Jayland Walker last Monday. Baer has only owned the pizza shop for two days.

Baer didn't have an estimate of the monetary damage. He expects the cleanup to take Monday and Tuesday and tentatively hopes to open Wednesday.

Baer said he wants people to keep protesting, but "please do it peacefully and without damage to our local community.”

“I understand that it's horrible what happened, and I'm right there with them. I think that there should be protests, and no one should be shot 60 times," he said. "But I don't know why they had to bust in my windows.”

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan issued an overnight curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. after the events of Sunday night into Monday.

A worker from Taylor Cos. of Ohio secures a sheet of plywood Monday to one of the 25 windows on the AES Building on South Main Street broken the previous night by protesters in Akron.
A worker from Taylor Cos. of Ohio secures a sheet of plywood Monday to one of the 25 windows on the AES Building on South Main Street broken the previous night by protesters in Akron.

Beacon Journal reporter Molly Walsh contributed reporting. Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at emills@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Downtown Akron cleaning up after overnight Jayland Walker protests