Akron Group Goes to Washington on Behalf of Jayland Walker
Akron Reporter News Team Special Report
(Washington, DC) -- When it comes to police violence against Black people: the more things
change, the more they stay the same -- and that’s something that Lillie Jackson of Akron won’t
sit still for.
One year to the day after the police slaying of Jayland Walker, Jackson was among the 70 or so
people who boarded two buses enroute to Washington D.C. to demand that the U.S. Justice
Department open a “pattern and practice” investigation into the Akron Police Department.
Walker, 25, was killed under a barrage of nearly 100 police gunshots last year.
On the night of June 27, 2022, Akron police began their vehicle pursuit of Walker near the
intersection of North Howard Street and Tallmadge Avenue after he refused to pull over
because of an equipment violation. By the time the chase ended at Wilbeth Road near Main
Street, Walker fled from his car and eight police officers opened fire on him claiming that he
appeared to be reaching for his waistband as if he was pulling a gun. Records show the officers
fired 96 shots at the unarmed Black man, striking him 45 times.
A Special Summit County Grand Jury refused to indict the eight officers for Walker’s death. APD
has refused to release their names, and last October the eight were reinstated by Police Chief
For Jackson, the Walker killing was all too familiar. Fifty-five years ago, she was a 19-year-old
protesting the Vietnam War in downtown Chicago. Less than a year later, two Black Panther
Party leaders were killed by Chicago police firing nearly 100 shots into the apartment where the
two men were sleeping.
“I’ve been marching since 1968,” Jackson said. “I was in Chicago for the Democratic National
Convention.” It was there that then Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley gave the Chicago police
department orders to “shoot to kill.”
“I was right there on Michigan Avenue, and the National Guard told us to turn back,” Jackson
said. “We were met with M-16 assault rifles pointed at us. I never felt so helpless in my life.
Those were some of the most racist people.
“All of that is in the back of my mind,” she said as she was preparing to make the trek to
Washington on behalf of the Walker killing.
Jackson and others from Akron, Ashtabula and Cleveland packed their overnight bags and made
sure their cellphones were charged as they filed onto the motorcoaches outside First
Congregational Church on East Market Street to carry their “enough is enough” message to the
“People were anxious to get started,” said Jackson as the buses filled up. “Rev. Nanette (Pitts)
led us in prayer for a safe journey.
“I might have been the oldest person on the bus,” said Jackson, who took her grandsons,
Malcolm X. Jackson, 31, and Medgar Elijah Jackson, 19, along for the trip.
“The bus was geared toward young people,” she said. “They wanted to watch a movie and go to
sleep.” But none of that stopped Jackson and others from belting out the songs of the Civil
Rights movement as the bus traveled through the night:
“Ain’t gonna let nobody, turn me around, turn me around, turn me around. Ain’t gonna’ let
nobody turn me around. I’m gonna keep on-a-walking, keep on-a-talking, marching up to
As a member of the Greater Akron-Canton Association of Black Social Workers, Jackson and her
group were invited to participate in the demonstration by Freedom BLOC, a political action
group which has led protests surrounding Walker’s killing and was instrumental in establishing
the Police Oversight Committee in Akron.
Billed as a one-day excursion, organizers had hotel rooms reserved so the protesters could
freshen up and have breakfast after the road trip.
“We arrived in D.C. about 8:30 a.m.,” she explained. “There was one (hotel) room for the men
and a room for the women, and once we got there, another busload met us from Ashtabula.”
The caravan marched to the door of the Department of Justice where a bevy of speakers
addressed issues of police violence against Black people around the country.
“There were mothers and fathers present who were still in pain from police gun violence,”
Jackson said. “Rev. Ray Greene, director of Freedom BLOC spoke of our demands, as well as Judi
Hill, president of the Akron NAACP.
“We had an itinerary, and we had to stay within the rules – no one was to talk to the media,
and we were to stay on the sidewalks. We were going to do the right thing because we had a
demand to deliver – we want action. We want the Justice Department to look into the pattern
and practices of the Akron police. It’s not necessary to shoot a man that many times.”
The demonstration culminated with Walker’s mother, Pam Walker handing over written
demands to a Department of Justice representative asking for the investigation and the
termination of the eight officers involved in the Walker shooting.
When it was all said and done, Jackson reflected on the sad state of affairs regarding police
violence against Black people.
“When Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson (MO), I went to that funeral, and I heard Rev. Al
Sharpton speak, said Jackson of the 18-year-old Black man who was shot by a suburban St.
Louis police officer in the summer of 2014, and whose killing sparked days of protests and riots
across 170 cities at the time.
“When I left that (funeral), I just knew things would have changed,” she said, wistfully. “And
then there was Ahmad Aubrey and George Floyd, and now Jayland Walker. We feel this has to
Speaking of her determination to achieve justice, Jackson recalled the words from a “spiritual
awakening” she shared with those on her bus ride to Washington. It read in part:
“We have survived wars and rumors of wars, drought, betrayal, removal from our homeland.
“We have survived shackles, the Middle Passage, the auction block, enslavement, and
“We have survived plantation life, picking cotton, lynching, rape, and emasculation …
“We will survive … no one thing has the power to separate us from our greatness, our purpose,
our destiny, our God.”
“I felt a sense of relief that we delivered our message,” she said. “Nobody acted out, nobody
was arrested, and nobody was injured. We’re already thinking about the next step, and we
plan to do the right thing.”