Commentary: What Minneapolis could learn from Akron’s reaction to recent police shooting

Unlike Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey or Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Akron and Ohio are proving government can work with police and trusted community leaders to deal with tragedies. 

Main Street in downtown Akron, Ohio. (AJ Kaufman)

Jayland Walker was killed by police just over a month ago in Akron, but after initial protests on the July 4 weekend, the city 40 miles south of Cleveland has remained mostly quiet. Unlike Minneapolis two summers ago, there were no massive fires and looting; instead of wanton destruction, there has been productive dialogue. Why?

Mayor Dan Horrigan, Akron police, and the city’s community and religious leaders have so far shown other cities how to properly deal with controversial police-involved shootings.

The mayor of a racially-diverse city of 200,000 initially held daily public briefings and had a plan in place before the shooting occurred, and his government carried it out.

That policy demanded an immediate response from city leaders in this type of instance, and when tensions were high earlier this summer, Police Chief Steve Mylett immediately reached out to Walker’s family and expressed condolences.

Walker’s family and the police deserve credit for their forthrightness since the incident.

None of the involved parties allowed the tragedy to be hijacked by radical leftists for political purposes. Walker’s family encouraged the public to remain peaceful from the onset. Despite the media’s usual disingenuous efforts, most locals resisted pressure to racialize the tragedy, and instead sought the best interests of their city.

Rather importantly, police refused to throw their officers under the bus, as has occurred in similar situations. They have not capitulated to pressure by racial grifters, as we see too often in the Twin Cities, but did begin investigating the officers’ conduct. Police also quickly released the video of the shooting and described the confrontation in detail, which demonstrates a commitment to clarity and objectivity.

Unlike Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey or Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Akron and Ohio are proving government can work with police and trusted community leaders to deal with tragedies.

No situation is the same, or can be resolved to the satisfaction of everyone, but a sense of peace continues in Akron despite monumental grief, because the victim’s family was mature, the city demonstrated a fair-minded pursuit of justice, and officials sought the assistance of legitimate neighborhood leaders instead of letting outside agitators take over.

When I visited downtown Akron last week, it looked like any normal Midwestern city. I was specifically told police have done a great job implementing and enforcing curfews, which is crucial.

“Overall, outside of a small portion of downtown, there really didn’t seem to be any visible signs of unrest,”  lifelong Akron resident Ryan Ball told Alpha News. “You could overhear conversations with people sharing opinions everywhere you went, which is to be expected after something like that, but Akron PD seemed determined to give people space to display their discontent without letting the situation devolve into chaos.”

To reduce violence in any community — Akron, Minneapolis, Chicago, wherever — residents must address the villains within their own community, not get sidetracked by hustlers who absolutely don’t want solutions. Anger is natural after a tragedy, and it’s much easier — but far less productive — to promote faux outrage than to seek peace.

Walker’s mother spoke at length to media for the first time last week about her late 25-year-old son.

People like her and Akron’s leaders have quickly and tellingly been ignored by national media and left-leaning politicians, because they are not torching precincts and screaming obscenities on cable news; instead, they are responding to a situation and tending to their neighborhoods.


A.J. Kaufman
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A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.