Racial Equity in Akron

Overview

The City of Akron’s efforts in eliminating race-based outcome gaps so that race cannot predict one’s success and improving outcomes for all are continuous and ongoing. In recent years, Mayor Dan Horrigan and the City administration, with the support of Council President Margo Sommerville and Akron City Council, have taken consistent and targeted steps to investigate the causes of racial inequities, understand the impacts of those inequities, work to determine what institutions are responsible, and engage the community in proactive strategies and solutions. As the City moves forward, we will continue to act with humility, ask explicit questions about racial impacts, shepherd policy changes through the legislative and administrative process, foster earnest community engagement, and work to manage necessary change. The following is a timeline of recent steps and historical moments in our city.  

2017 Akron Civil Rights Commission  
In 2017, Mayor Horrigan signed into law a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance that established protections against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, and created the Akron Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) to hear complaints.  

The ACRC provides residents with the opportunity to resolve discrimination issues at a local level. The Commission investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination based on age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, familial status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or military status in the following areas:

  • Housing, including home sales, leases, rentals, and financial transactions
  • Employment, including hiring, promotions, discipline, working conditions, and salary
  • Public accommodations, including access to goods, services, business, and public spaces
  • City contracts

2019 - Full Term First Birthday Initiative Begins
Full Term First Birthday Greater Akron is a collective impact group started by the City of Akron that promotes services and resources to reduce racial inequities for Black families to promote infant vitality. The goal of the collective is to reduce the Black Infant Mortality Rate to 6.0 per 1,000 births in Summit County by 2028.

Summer 2020 - George Floyd/Black Lives Matter Protests
Several weeks of protests and accompanying road closures occurred in Akron in solidarity with initiatives across the nation protesting police brutality. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, and many officers guarding the Stubbs Justice Center kneeled with protestors in early June.

June 8, 2020 - Racism as a Public Health Crisis
Mayor Horrigan presented a resolution to City Council declaring racism as a public health crisis and creating a task force to develop a five-year equity and social justice strategic plan to the Mayor, City Council and Summit County Public Health.

Summer 2020 - Charter Review Commission recommends quick release of body-cam footage
The citizen-led Charter Review Commission made several recommendations for changes to Akron’s Charter. One recommendation involved mandating disclosure of certain use-of-force recordings.  With the support of Mayor Horrigan and Council President Sommerville, Akron City Council voted to place this proposed Charter amendment before the voters.  At the November 2020 election, the Charter Amendment was adopted—receiving approval from 88.8% of Akron voters. On June 28, 2021 Akron City Council voted to enact the new law. The law requires the City to release body-cam footage that documents an Akron Police officer’s use of deadly force or force that results in serious bodily injury within 7 days of the incident.  The law puts Akron at the forefront of transparency and accountability related to critical incidents involving citizens and police.

February 2022 - Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce Report
The Taskforce submits its five-year plan, which included 117 recommendations in the areas of criminal justice, workforce development, public health, housing, education, and communications.

June 2022 - Officer-Involved Shooting of Jayland Walker
Jayland Walker was killed in an officer-involved shooting which drew national media attention and resulted in a flood of community outcry and protests. Work to build community trust and infrastructure to address trauma and grief is ongoing in the city.

November 2022 - City Hires Its First Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In fulfilling one of the most critical recommendations of the RESJ Taskforce, the City hired its first cabinet-level Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Tammy Tucker.

November 2022 – City Selected for the National League of Cities Race, Equity and Leadership Institute

Upon application, four City leaders were selected by the National League of Cities to participate in a 10-month initiative to build structures to support governing for racial equity, develop stronger buy-in and skills to communicate effectively about race, and create infrastructure and coalitions to advance racial equity in our City.

November 2022 - Issue 10 – City Charter Amendment Measure Creating a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board
A petition-initiated ballot measure to amend Akron’s Charter to create a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board passes. Previously, a different oversight board model combining audit and review functions was proposed by the Mayor’s Office and passed City Council in September 2022. This law was rescinded after the petition-initiated Charter measure passed and became effective.

December 2022 - City Responds to RESJ Taskforce Recommendations
The City provided its response to the Taskforce recommendations. The City identified 92 recommendations to incorporate into government policy and practice. Of those recommendations, 43 have already been implemented or were already practiced. The City made plans to address the remaining recommendations in the coming years.

March 8, 2023 – Akron City Council confirms members to the Citizens’ Police Oversight Board

In a special meeting of Akron City Council, the councilmembers confirmed 8 of the 9 seats for the Citizens’ Police Oversight Board. In another special meeting held March 30, they confirmed the final remaining seat. The nine board members are Beverly Richards, Tristan Reed, Shawn Peoples, Donzella Anuszkiewicz, Kemp Boyd, Caitlin Castle, Diane Lewis, Robert Gippin, and Brandyn Costa.  

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