‘Say his name’: Protesters demand justice for police killing of Jayland Walker

By Irvin Ibarra, Staff Reporter

The downtown streets of Chicago echoed with chants and speeches demanding justice for the killing of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by eight Akron, Ohio, police officers.

Black Lives Matter Chicago, alongside the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression protested and marched Wednesday at Federal Plaza — three days after the release of body cam footage showing the police killing.

Meeting at the plaza on South Dearborn Street, people from across different organizations and community groups spoke to the crowd and later marched north along State Street to City Hall. The peaceful protest garnered a crowd of approximately 150 people with signs and flags reading “Justice For Jayland Walker” and “Black Lives Matter.”

“We are here demanding justice for Jayland,” said Aislinn Pulley, organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago and co-executive director of the Chicago Justice Torture Center. “We got to f—ing stop this criminal a– system from continuing to murder because that is the only thing they know how to do. That is the only thing a gun is meant to do is to kill, and we have seen it time and time again.”

The fatal shooting of Walker occurred on June 27 in Akron, Ohio, when police attempted to pull Walker over for a routine traffic stop. A car chase led to a foot pursuit where police shot Walker approximately 90 times, 60 of which hit Walker, as reported by NBC.

Police officials said Walker “fired what appeared to be a gunshot out the window” during the car pursuit, according to CNN. They said officers believed Walker reached toward his waist and was “moving into a firing position” after exiting the car. Police say a gun was found inside Walker’s car, but Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said Walker was not armed when he was shot outside of his vehicle.

Bobby DiCello, an attorney for the Walker family, said officers continued to shoot even after Walker was on the ground, and he was handcuffed “after 60-plus wounds,” according to the Washington Post. Mylett called the footage “difficult to watch” and “shocking.”

In their speech Wednesday, Pulley also mentioned the recent police killing of Jada Johnson, a 22-year-old African American woman in Fayetteville, North Carolina, who was suffering a mental health crisis when police were called. During the police response July 1, Johnson was shot seven times, according to the Fayetteville Observer.

“We are here also demanding justice for Jada and everyone else out there who is still fighting for justice,” Pulley said.

Eric Russell, activist with the Tree of Life Justice League who spoke at the protest, said demanding justice becomes their responsibility to make the voices of those killed by police heard.

“He didn’t have a weapon, but in the eyes of a racist killer cop, the very Black skin that Jayland Walker was in was weaponized,” Russell said.

Frank Edgar Chapman, mentor, organizer and executive director of NAARPR, said Mayor Lori Lightfoot has done nothing with her public safety ordinance meant to empower communities, which passed in July 2021, an ordinance which would give independent civilians the ability to oversee the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Police Board as a tool for greater accountability and transparency of the city’s police department.

“We passed a law that we need to enforce. We the people,” Chapman said. “So I’m gonna say it again, all power to the people, all power to Black people, all power to Brown people, all power to the working class.”