More than 1,000 people attend Jayland Walker’s open-coffin funeral, drawing comparisons to Emmett Till’s ministry 67 years ago

The funeral of a black man who was fired at least 80 bullets by Akron police and who died after 60 bullets pierced his body evoked a painful reminder of America’s troubled relationship with race. The man’s family took a page from civil rights activist Mamie Till-Mobley’s book and showed the victim’s minimally unprepared body to the public to spread the message that officers used excessive force in his arrest.

On Wednesday morning, July 13, before Jayland Walker’s body was interred at his final resting place, the family held a public viewing at 10 a.m. followed by a 1 p.m. funeral at the Akron Civic Theater at 182 S Main St. in Akron, Ohio.

The service was also broadcast live.

Akron City Council unanimously voted that his homecoming should also serve as a “day of mourning.”

The funeral opened with an invocation prayer by Bishop Joey Johnson of the House of the Lords.

The service was led by Pastor Marlon Walker, a cousin of the deceased. Rev. Walker read acknowledgments, several resolutions passed to the congregation by several government agencies, and the obituary. He later returned to give a heartfelt eulogy for his beloved relative.

Bishop Timothy Clarke, a Columbus pastor and the national leader of the Church of God, said “we must not normalize this” when speaking about the man’s killing.

“We can’t make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age a normal thing,” Clarke continues. “There’s nothing normal about that. We must not try to pretend that this has already happened. It’s not OK!”

Walker’s best friend and Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Dupri Whatley tearfully talked about old times playing basketball and listening to music together. He said Walker “loved him some Jada Kiss, some Tupac, some Biggie. He loved everything.”

“I don’t want it to seem like my best friend is a bad guy,” he said, trying to hold back tears.

“He will live through me,” Whatley explained, searching for words. “I will never forget him.”

Walker’s older cousin Robin Elerick said he had “the biggest heart” and described him as “so sweet and so authentically real”.

While her uncle, Tom Addie, also commented on how he was “a kind soul with a big heart”.

About 1,000 people who came to pay their respects said the building was solemn as people viewed Walker’s body.

Pictures of Walker were digitally framed throughout the main auditorium and family photos were shown on some monitors.

Some said they could still see some of the wounds from Monday July 27 – the day the 25-year-old was killed by at most eight different police officers who showered gunfire on the unarmed man, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Police bodycam footage of his death was released by the Akron Police Department during a news conference on Sunday, July 3, prompting community outrage and civil unrest across the city. In response to the protests, Mayor Daniel Horrigan imposed a downtown curfew to stave off potential violence and looting.

There was no riot that homecoming morning.

Reporter Jim Mackinnon reported that “downtown Akron is largely quiet save for caravans of motor vehicles honking their horns.”

Many in the audience drew the comparison to another tragic murder, that of 14-year-old Chicago teenager Emmett Till. At his service, his mother chose to allow an open coffin – even though her son was grotesquely disfigured after being kidnapped, struck down, killed and then dumped in a river over 67 years ago for allegedly whistling at a married white woman .

The woman’s husband and a relative were acquitted of his murder by a jury of peers, but confessed a year later when no legal censure could punish them.

The circumstances between Walker’s and Till’s death are very different. However, issues of race and justice bind them together in the eyes of many.

The family also planned to hold a private ceremony after the public presentation and to speak to the press after the 3 p.m. service.

Later in the evening there will be a series of prayer vigils taking place from 6pm to 7pm at various community centers around the city.

The family’s attorneys urged the public and the media to grant them privacy for a funeral scheduled after the Greenlawn Cemetery burial. More than 1,000 people attend Jayland Walker’s open-coffin funeral, drawing comparisons to Emmett Till’s ministry 67 years ago

Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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