'You Do What You Feel': Jayland Walker's Cousin Addresses Akron Protesters

A relative of Jayland Walker, a black man killed by police in Akron, Ohio, on June 27, told protesters in Akron on July 9 to “do what you feel” as he castigated the city’s mayor for calling for calm while heavily armed police remained a presence.

Body-worn camera footage released by the Akron Police Department on July 3 showed several police officers firing more than 60 rounds into Walker, who was unarmed, after he fled a traffic stop on foot.

The release of the footage raised tensions in the city, already roiled by the shooting, spurring on a series of largely peaceful protests decrying police brutality. Police responded to increasing incidents of violence during the protests making multiple arrests and firing tear gas to disperse crowds. Protesters accused police of mistreating peaceful participants.

On Saturday evening, after protesters had marched through Akron’s downtown area with placards and banners, Demetrius Travis Sr, a cousin of Walker and a leading figure in the demonstrations, told a crowd at Grace Park that Akron’s mayor, Dan Horrigan, had called his family and asked them to ask demonstrators to “protest peacefully.”

“I was out here with y’all. I was here with you. I seen it! I seen you protesting peacefully,” Travis said through a megaphone. “I seen him with military. He got SWAT teams on the roof, tear gas, cops punching people in the face — and you want me to tell them to be peaceful?” he said.

Travis said he had to remain peaceful “on account of” his family, but told the crowd, “You don’t have to do that. You do what you feel.”

“If (Horrigan) wants peace, he better start showing peace,” Travis said, prompting cheers from protesters.

In a statement on Saturday, Horrigan said he had “heard the calls for concern at the way Akron Police have responded to recent demonstrations” and had “seen the videos and I understand that concern.”

“I want the community to know that I am fully committed to de-escalating the tension in our city,” Horrigan said. “We are always looking for ways to improve, and Chief Mylett and I have had ongoing conversations about our approach and our role in lowering the temperature and helping to de-escalate the violence and anger here in Akron. As we call for peace, we understand that call applies to all of us,” the mayor wrote. Credit: Brendan Gutenschwager via Storyful

Video transcript

- Justice!

- No peace!

- No [INAUDIBLE]!

- No justice!

- No peace!

- No justice!

- No peace!

- This is what democracy looks like!

- This is what democracy looks like.

- Tell me what democracy looks like.

- This is what democracy looks like.

- Show me what community looks like!

- This is what community looks like!

- Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Them racist cops-- they got to go!

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

- Hey, now, Babylon, Black people [INAUDIBLE].

- We running. We coming. We running. We coming. We running.

- Hey, now, Babylon, Black people [INAUDIBLE].

- We running. We coming. We running. We coming.

- APD-- KKK, how many kids did you kill today? APD-- KKK, how many kids did you kill today?

- No justice!

- No peace!

- Fuck this racist [INAUDIBLE]!

- No peace!

- No justice!

- No peace!

- Fuck this racist [INAUDIBLE]! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12. Fuck 'em.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11--

- Fuck 12!

- [INAUDIBLE] 9, 10, 11?

- Fuck 12!

[SHOUTING]

- 66 times you shot a kid. They don't even do that in firing squad. I know we got a lot of national people that came up, and talking to a lot of people that-- nationally-- that lost something.

But I'm going to share something right here. This is Ohio. Because we 40 minutes away from where [INAUDIBLE].

- That's right!

- --was killed. Melissa Williams and Timothy Russell--

- [SCREAMS]

- --was killed. Andre Hill, Ma'Khia Bryant, in Columbus, killed. Cincinnati-- Sam DuBose-- 2016, shot and killed, unarmed. Jayland Walker was the third killing by APD since December.

I'm angry.

- Yeah.

- This mayor's name-- Horrigan. He calls my family, tells us to tell everybody to protest peacefully.

[BOOING]

I was out here with y'all. I was here with you. I seen it. I see you protesting peacefully.

- That's right!

- I seen him with military.

- There was SWATs!

- He got SWAT teams on the roof. Tear gas! Cops punching people in the face! Cops-- and you want me to tell them to be peaceful.

- That's right.

- I have to do that on account of my family. You don't have to do that. You do what you feel.

- Yeah.

- If he want peace, he better start showing peace.

[CHEERING]

You killed my peace. You killed his mom's peace, his sister's peace, his family and friends.

- [CHEERS]

- They thrust our family into a circle we didn't ask to be in, but we're here. We're sharing the same circle as the Breonna Taylors of the world, George Floyds of the world.

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