Tasha Scott is a single mother, raising three sons in West Akron.
You don’t have to tell her; she knows the odds. She knows her sons, though not yet teenagers, could wind up like too many black men — killed or jailed.
She worries as well for her two daughters as they grow into women.
“I’m concerned how my children will grow up, living in this community,” she said. “My greatest fear for my children is that they won’t live to reach their full potential, that something might happen to them as innocent bystanders, a stray bullet. Burying my children is my greatest fear.”
Scott said she is determined to see her kids safely through their teen years, but she concedes it can’t be done alone. No parent, she said, can do it alone.
“Raising a black man is going to be difficult in itself,” she said. “The only way to make a difference is to be seen and heard, and to inspire the youth to think differently.”
Her children’s future is what brought Scott, 33, and her kids to the corner of Copley Road and Storer Avenue on Friday afternoon. She joined about a dozen others to rally against violence and urge support for gun law changes proposed by President Barack Obama.
The Copley Road corner was a suitable site for the marchers.
A year ago, Akron teen Willie Brewer was shot and killed there as he walked outside the Mr. Pantry convenience store.
A few blocks away on Madison Avenue, two brothers were robbed and shot inside their home earlier this month. One died, the other survived. A cousin is accused in the slaying.
A week or so later on the same street, an Akron woman, 21, was shot inside a van. She survived. In December, a man was stabbed during a fight on Madison Avenue near Work Avenue.
In many cases, few witnesses have come forward to help police solve the crimes. Scott said that has to stop. She urged parents to come together. She urged government to provide safe venues and encourage kids to learn and plan safely. She hopes for a better economy, where a real jobs pays as well as a drug deal.
“Our community must come together as a village,” she said. “We need others to reinforce the morals we’re trying to instill on our children. We need to help each other.”
Raoof Ali Muhammad, 68, a community activist, helped organize the rally. He was joined by his son, Isa Muhammad, 30, a University of Akron student and an aspiring law enforcement officer.
The small group carried signs and passing cars sounded their horns.
The elder Muhammad has lived in Akron for more than 40 years. He knows change won’t happen overnight.
“We’re not even reporting these crimes. We’re watching people get killed and we’re afraid to come together as a community to solve these problems,” he said. “You have to stop being fearful as men. It’s time for us to take responsibility as men and take control of our community.
“This isn’t happening in Fairlawn or Kent or Stow. It’s happening in the hood. This is insanity running rampant. And it’s up to us as men to do something about it.”
Isa Muhammad said he’s lived it all in West Akron. The Buchtel High grad has been struck by a bullet fragment. His friends have been shot, shot at, stabbed, robbed at gunpoint.
It’s never been quiet, except when it comes time to talk to police.
“It really needs to end,” he said. “The community has to come together as one to stop the criminal element. The criminal element needs to be in prison. Period.
“I’ve lived in neighborhoods where I couldn’t walk to the store without being confronted by the criminal element, gang members, drug dealers. To this day, you can’t walk down the street without being confronted with some kind of violence.”