Monday, 17 June 2024 07:37

Akron City Council Pushes Back On Mayor's Decision To Cancel Weekend Events Featured

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The eight Akron City Council members who sent a letter to Mayor Shammas Malik asking him to shut down events over the past weekend on safety concerns related to the recent mass shooting in East Akro, have released a statement clarifying it was only Juneteenth events they wanted shut down; not all of them, which is what Malik did.

They say they were concerned about "inequity of the police staff ratio" for the different events that had been scheduled around the city, but said the decision to cancel all events, was Malik's decision alone.

In the letter that the Council members sent to Malik on Friday; there was no mention of police staffing levels.

They just said they wanted the Juneteenth events cancelled on concerns about violence, that there had been a violent incident at the funeral of the man was killed in the mass shooting, 27 year old Lateris Cook, of Akron. 28 other people were injured in the drive-by shooting on June 2, in East Akron. 

During his press conference on Friday evening, Malik noted "They were concerned about safety, and asked me to shut down Juneteenth events. That reasoning applies to all events, and so I'm not going to pick and choose, and say some folks can gather, and some folks cannot".

This is the statement City Council members released on Saturday:

In the wake of the June 14th decision of Mayor Malik to cancel all large gatherings on city-owned property being held this weekend, the members of Akron City Council who sent a letter to Mayor Malik expressing concerning about the hosting of Juneteenth events in the wake of the June 2nd shooting in East Akron want to set the record straight. They issued the following statement:

“We stand behind our expression of concern to Mayor Malik. We want to be clear that we did not request that the mayor cancel all large gatherings on city-owned property. We wrote a letter expressing our concern about the hosting of the Juneteenth events after an earlier attempt to convey the magnitude of those concerns, particularly about the inequity of the police staff ratio for the different events were unfruitful. The decision to attribute the scope of the concerns to all events being held on city-owned property, and cancel those events too was Mayor Malik’s decision and his decision alone.

While there may have been no known credible threats against this year’s Juneteenth events, the fact remains that gun play and gun violence is an everyday reality in the African American community. Gun violence is impacting the African American community in Akron at an alarming rate. Those who do not share such lived experiences are challenged to fully understand and appreciate the fear and trauma experienced by those for which gun violence is an everyday occurrence. A young man was shot at a Juneteenth event last year and his life will forever impacted. His shooter has still not been apprehended. Shootings occur at football practices. “Events can always take place, a lost life can never be replaced, said Ward 5 Councilman Johnnie Hannah. We appealed to the Mayor out of an abundance of caution and stand by our decision.” “The bottom line is that the request was to pause events due to the inequity of the police presence”, said Ward 4 Councilwoman Jan Davis. “I learned that Mayor Malik had been in conversations with the event organizers, but not one time did he or his staff reach out to me as the Ward representative.”

The Mayor’s Together for Akron platform speaks to a level of collaboration that was not evident in the planning of the Juneteenth events. The Mayor had an opportunity to reach out to the Council Members to work collaboratively in planning the Juneteenth events scheduled to take place this weekend. Neither the Mayor nor his Chief of Strategy Nanette Pitt chose to do so. Additionally, the safety plan so often referenced was not shared with the relevant members of Council. We welcomed the opportunity to attend yesterday’s press conference but were informed by Chief of Strategy Nanette Pitt that the Council was not invited. When questioned about our absence on two occasions, the Mayor did not respond.

“Our constituents call us when problems arise and to express their fears, and the administration is reluctant to share information with Council that can assist in ensuring that the residents’ concerns are adequately addressed”, said Council President Margo Sommerville. “We have to do better; our city deserves better.”

The original letter was signed by City Council President, Margo Sommerville (Ward 3), as well as Council members Johnnie Hannah (Ward 5), Jeff Fusco (At Large), Brad McKitrick (Ward 6), Sharon Connor (Ward 10), Sam DeShazior (Ward 1), Phil Lombardo (Ward 2), and Jan Davis, (Ward 4).

The statement they released on Saturday, though, was not signed by indiviual members.

It was sent by Akron City Council Chief of Staff, Joan Williams, under the heading "Members of Akron City Council Set the Record Straight".



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