On April 22, 2023 the City of Akron signed a joint temporary stipulated order in federal court concerning police responses related to protest activity. There was no finding of excessive force by Akron officers as part of this court proceeding and the Plaintiff ultimately withdrew the motion seeking a temporary restraining order. Law enforcement’s use of chemical irritants during the Copley Road incident on April 19th was consistent with the judge’s order.
See the full order here.
“Yesterday’s agreement stipulates that Akron police officers cannot use chemical irritants on nonviolent protestors, which has never been our policy or practice to begin with,” said Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett. ”The Police Department’s recent response on Wednesday, April 19 is in line with the agreement signed yesterday. The evidence supports the officer’s use of OC spray to disperse the crowd on Copley Rd. due to various objects being thrown at police officers. This department supports peaceful protest and will continue to do so.”
By the terms of the temporary order, the City agrees to continue to refrain from using any chemical irritants on nonviolent demonstrators except in situations that involve violent activity, and actions causing property damage, impede the provision of emergency services such as fire, EMS and police, or interfere with critical infrastructure.
Residents, for their own safety and the safety of others who may need emergency and critical life support services, are reminded that it is not legal to occupy a street as part of a protest or not. Please see the following Ohio Revised Code sections for more: 4511.452 Right of way yielded by pedestrian, 2917.11 Disorderly conduct, 2917.13 Misconduct at emergency, 4511.50 Pedestrian in roadway. Residents in the street can be arrested under the terms of this order.
“It is absolutely critical that fire trucks and EMS vehicles be able to quickly and efficiently get to their locations,” said Fire Chief Joseph Natko. “Even an extra ten seconds getting a patient to the hospital or getting to the scene of a fire can literally mean life or death. Keeping our main access routes clear is imperative for public safety.”
“It’s important to note that the use of chemical irritants on Wednesday, April 19th was consistent with the Court’s order,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “And while some may not agree with the use of chemical irritants, the facts remain that when people start throwing objects at police officers, they are no longer peaceful. The safety of all of our citizens is paramount and when we have dozens of cars blocking EMS routes, it becomes a public safety issue for everyone. As we’ve said all along, this city and this police department continue to respect and support the rights of our citizens to protest and make their voices heard but to do so nonviolently.”
This joint temporary stipulated order remains in place for 14 days.
Watch Chief Mylett discuss the situation and provide a video timeline of the protest here: