AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – As a grand jury in Akron continues to consider evidence in the Jayland Walker case, preparations are underway for potential reaction to the panel’s ultimate decision on whether eight Akron police officers will face criminal charges in connection with the June 2022 death of the 25-year-old.
The Akron Public Schools are among the organizations getting ready for possible unrest because three of the district’s schools are near the Summit County Courthouse and the Akron Police Department.
The district says it is prepared to evacuate the schools if needed and move students onto the campus of the University of Akron.
“If moving our students isn’t effective, or it’s a prolonged situation or it expands further than what we anticipate, we are prepared to go online and do have clearance to do that,” said APS Chief Operations Officer Dr. Stephen Thompson.
Most students were on summer break when Walker was killed, so very few were downtown when protesters held marches and demonstrations.
Nine months later, some Akronites are worried about potential reaction to a decision by the grand jury.
“I feel if they don’t probably get the answers that they want, I feel that people are going to be very ,very disappointed and sometimes emotions can be hard to contain,” said downtown worker Brenda Taylor.
According to the University of Akron, the school’s administration and university police are working closely with Akron police to monitor the situation with the grand jury and plan for any events that could impact the campus.
The university issued the following statement:
The University of Akron Police Department and the University’s administration have been working closely with the City of Akron Police Department and city officials to monitor and plan for events that may take place downtown.
The challenge is that we do not know how long the grand jury will take to make a decision or what the community’s response to a decision might be. As such, the University has scalable plans in place to respond to a variety of scenarios.
The University has communicated to students, faculty and staff of the availability of the City’s website akronupdates.com to stay informed and we also will communicate via email, text messages and other avenues if there is an emerging situation or a change to our operations.University of Akron
University of Akron students tell FOX 8 that they have been told by professors that if there is any unrest, classes could be held online.
“I think they should really just keep a close eye on it, really monitor like day by day and if things are fine, keep it pushing with regular classes, but if it starts to get unsafe, then go ahead and go online,” student Bre’lana White said.
“I do feel like there may be an impact, especially if people are angry, so they may have a negative reaction to the outcome of the jury and if they do, they might take it out on the city,” student Irina Haack said.
“I am interested to see what happens. You know, I trust the democratic process. I trust our community. I think that we are bracing for whatever may come, and you know, Akron is resilient. Whatever happens, I think we’ll be able to come together as a community and continue to thrive,” law student Ainslee Johnson-Brown said.