AKRON, Ohio — In a city torn apart after the death of Jayland Walker, faith leaders are asking for unity.
They preached the importance of unity Tuesday evening at Remedy Church at Akron’s Unity Gathering.
Hundreds gathered with seats filled, hearts heavy and emotions high to honor Walker’s family and to learn how to move forward as a community.
Walker’s family, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett and city council members were in attendance at the Unity Gathering.
All of the speakers at the event pressed the important theme of togetherness.
“The goal today is to walk out of this room looking at the person to the right and left of you, despite your race, your color, your creed, and for you to say ‘if you are here, you care,’” said Pastor Deante Lavender of Remedy Church. “What has happened in our community is a travesty and we understand that it is coming together that is going to be able to allow us to have one heartbeat, one sound, one song and we can be one team.”
He said while it is important to speak out, is also important to figure out what the community can do to move forward.
“Ninety shots on a young man is not only a lack of integrity, it is inhumane. But the reality is those individuals who did that are still a part of this community,” said Lavender. “Now the question is how do we strengthen our community and change, here it is, the hearts and the minds of people.”
The speakers were from various churches, NAACP, Freedom Bloc and Love Akron.
“We can create a systemic plan to create a systemic change for a better Akron community,” said Judi Hill, the NAACP Akron Chapter president.
Walker’s cousin, Rodray Walker Jr., echoed Hill’s sentiment.
“We will not let Jayland’s life be in vain and we are asking that you continue to unite in a nonviolent manner to raise awareness for injustice in police brutality that continues to happen in the African American communities,” he said.
The event comes less than 24 hours before Walker’s funeral and a city-wide day of mourning.
Funeral services will be held for Walker on Wednesday at the Akron Civic Theater, located at 182 S. Main St. in Akron. There will be a viewing from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by a service at 1 p.m. The service is open to the public.
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