CANTON: The owner of a pizza shop where an armed robbery occurred early this month is outraged that a rap video posted on YouTube contains lyrics that are a script for the crime.
Further, Your Pizza Shop owner Michael Myers said, at least one of the robbery suspects can be seen in the video production.
He was recognized first by his shoes.
“A robber will change clothes, not shoes,” said Myers, who lives near Massillon. “They’re proud of those $100-$150 shoes that parents can’t afford.”
He pointed to the lyrics in a music video titled Chill, one of several starring Lamuel “Lambino” Flowers III, 19. He is not a suspect in the Dec. 2 pizza shop crime, but is accused of participating in a shootout at a Plain Township bar’s parking lot in October.
As in the robbery of the pizza shop, apparent gang members in the video brandish handguns and wear ski masks in a rap that contains lyrics including:
You better get your money up
And just stash that
Coming through the back door
Like where the stash at?
With the mask on
Lay ’em down
Where the cash at?
You ain’t got it?
Well, honestly, I’m about to flip
Hit a n----- up and let him feel the whole clip.
Canton police arrested two suspects — ages 17 and 19 — following the robbery, which netted the perpetrators $14 and a pizza, according to an incident report.
Myers said his 18-year-old employee was forced to lie face-down on the floor with a gun to his head. No shots were fired.
In the aftermath of the crime, business owners near the pizza shop, at 12th Street and Cleveland Avenue Northwest, begged City Council and the administration at a meeting last Monday to do something about violence in the area.
By Tuesday, the owner of nearby Mary Ann Donut Shop announced he was closing the store, the chain’s flagship.
“They’ve been repeatedly hit over the years,” said Councilman Thomas West, who lives close by and represents the area. “And it seems to me like kids coming off the streets. They’re doing some major crimes, stuff that, you know, we’re not used to.
“When they closed that [donut shop], that’s a dagger to my ward. That also sends a message to other businesses, like ... ‘We need to think about this.’ I pray that we can turn this thing around pretty quickly.”
West, too, finds the locally produced rap disturbing.
“If you look at the whole video, there’s only two or three people that rob you, but all those other ones associated in that video, we need to get a hold of ... because they’re probably part of the problem, too,” he said.
“For years, you know, black artists have been telling people, the whole community, ‘You really need to listen to the kids’ lyrics because they’re speaking of their life and their community.’ ”
West would like Canton to adopt a local version of the Cradle to Grave program, which aims to stem violence by showing at-risk youth the effects of a bullet on the human body. Anger management classes and family social services are part of the package.
A program that apparently reduced violence in Canton was eliminated after a two-year run in 2011.
Bruce Allison, who retired after 28 years with the Canton Police Department, coordinated the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, which was modeled after a Cincinnati effort.
In 2010, when the program was fully operational, only two homicides occurred in Canton, Allison said.
“Following the CIRV initiative, homicides went to 16,” said Allison, now chief of security for the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority.
The effort united multiple law-enforcement and corrections agencies around a single goal: to tell criminal gang members that shooting people won’t solve their problems.
“All it does is lead to incarceration for you and grief for the family,” Allison said.
Research has found that 1.2 percent of the total population was responsible for 70.9 percent of all homicides and gun-related crime, Allison said.
Reinstating the program would cost about $200,000 a year, he said.
“Government leaders, social service, community leaders and business leaders must come together and collaborate together to solve the problem because, you know, a bullet does not have a name on it,” Allison said. “You never know what the future holds if you don’t get it under control.”
Nancy Molnar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.