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City of Akron cancels all large public events for upcoming weekend due to safety concerns

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 14, 2024

The City of Akron announced Friday night that it has canceled 11 events for this upcoming weekend, including a couple of its Juneteenth festivals, due to safety concerns.

“I’m not going to pick and choose and say some folks can gather and some folks cannot, and so we decided to close the events that are going on this weekend,” said Akron Mayor Shammas Malik.

Friday evening, Malik hosted a press conference regarding the canceled events.

Akron Mayor holds press conference about this weekend's public events

Councilmembers wrote a letter to Malik, urging him to cancel Juneteenth events, saying they believed it would be "insensitive" to hold large gatherings so soon after the Akron party shooting that occurred June 2.

RELATED: Number of people wounded by gunfire at Akron street party shooting is now 27, including 1 fatality

The shooting took place near Kelly and Eighth avenues on the night of June 2. During the shooting, 28 people were shot, including one 27-year-old man who was killed.

In their letter, councilmembers said one of the reasons behind requesting the cancellation of these events is because there have been no arrests yet in connection to the shooting, and hosting a large gathering could allow for a "copycat or retaliatory shooting."

The letter even addressed a separate incident that happened on Friday where those councilmembers say violence broke out at the funeral of the young man killed during that shooting.

Malik makes it clear there isn’t any credible threat to this weekend’s Juneteenth festivities or any other events, but he says these concerns are serious.

“I have to weigh all the different things. When I have more than half of Akron City Council saying these events are irresponsible, I have to weigh that too and so this is where we landed on this one,” said Malik.

Earlier this week, News 5’s Remi Murrey reported how Former City Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Weems planned to increase police presence at the fifth annual Ward 5 Juneteenth Festival.

RELATED LINK: Akron to move forward with Ward 5 Juneteenth Festival with increased police presence

Now, her event is one of many that can no longer happen after the Mayor’s latest announcement.

“We did all the necessary things that were asked of us to make sure that are parks were secure and safe and just to have the rug pulled from underneath us in the 11th hour because of two councilmembers is very disheartening,” said Mosley-Weems.

“Our plan was for these to proceed but when you receive a letter like what we received it’s hard to move forward,” said Malik.

Malik said Akron can expect an official indoor Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday at John S. Knight Center, where he’s asking all organizers and vendors who were planning to take part in this weekend's events to join.

But Mosley-Weems and other event planners at Friday’s press conference said this isn’t enough, so they hope to reschedule their events when allowed.

“What about all the food they bought, what about the clothing they put together so they could sell it, who’s going to make them whole,” said Mosley-Weems.

Malik recognizes there are more events planned this summer, so he said he’s going to work to make sure this is not the new normal.

He also makes it clear he’s not encouraging people to cancel private gatherings at their homes but to be safe and responsible.

“As long as I’m Mayor, we’re going to be laser focused on safety,” said Malik.

Malik doesn’t plan to ban public events or large gatherings.

He said he's just focusing on this weekend only and emphasized the city will not institute a curfew.

Meanwhile, the following events have been canceled for the upcoming weekend:

Friday, June 14

  • · Rock the Lock at Lock 3 Park
  • Concert and Water Tower Market at Triangle Park

Saturday, June 15

  • Blue Heron Festival at the Mustill Store
  • Akron Juneteenth Festival at Stoner/Hawkins Park
  • Ward 5 5th Annual Juneteenth Festival at Joy Park Community Center
  • Nu You Event at Hardesty Park
  • North Hill 5K
  • American Heart Association Heart Walk

Sunday, June 16

  • West Akron Parade and Juneteenth Father’s Day Celebration at Buchtel CLC and Kerr Park
  • Church in the Park at Devenport Park
  • Wellness on the Plaza on Cascade Plaza

Following the press conference, Malik issued the following statement:

This weekend’s events - Juneteenth celebrations in particular - were an opportunity for our community to come together and congregate in Akron with family and friends,” says Mayor Shammas Malik. “Public safety has been a priority of our administration from day one, and we actively worked with the Akron Police Department, Akron Fire Department, and the organizers of the Juneteenth events to provide safety personnel. We look forward to hosting the community at the John S. Knight Center on Wednesday. We recognize that many will be impacted by the cancellation of this weekend’s events, and we encourage everyone to participate in Wednesday’s event.
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