Akron police say they aren’t ready to call it a hate crime or a gang initiation.
But to Marty Marshall, his wife and two kids, it seems pretty clear.
It came after a family night of celebrating America and freedom with a fireworks show at Firestone Stadium. Marshall, his family and two friends were gathered outside a friend’s home in South Akron.
Out of nowhere, the six were attacked by dozens of teenage boys, who shouted ”This is our world” and ”This is a black world” as they confronted Marshall and his family.
The Marshalls, who are white, say the crowd of teens who attacked them and two friends June 27 on Girard Street numbered close to 50. The teens were all black.
”This was almost like being a terrorist act,” Marshall said. ”And we allow this to go on in our neighborhoods?”
They said it started when one teen, without any words or warning, blindsided and assaulted Marshall’s friend as he stood outside with the others.
When Marshall, 39, jumped in, he found himself being attacked by the growing group of teens.
His daughter, Rachel, 15, who weighs about 90 pounds, tried to come to his rescue. The teens pushed her to the ground.
His wife, Yvonne, pushed their son, Donald, 14, into bushes to keep him protected.
”My thing is,” Marshall said, ”I didn’t want this, but I was in fear for my wife, my kids and my friends. I felt I had to stay out there to protect them, because those guys were just jumping, swinging fists and everything.
”I’m lucky. They didn’t break my ribs or bruise my ribs. I thank God, they concentrated on my thick head because I do have one. They were trying to take my head off my spine, basically.”
After several minutes of punches and kicks, the attack ended and the group ran off. The Marshalls’ two adult male friends were not seriously hurt.
”I don’t think I thought at that moment when I tried to jump in,” Rachel Marshall said. ”But when I was laying on the ground, I was just scared.”
Marshall was the most seriously injured. He suffered a concussion and multiple bruises to his head and eye. He said he spent five nights in the critical care unit at Akron General Medical Center.
The construction worker said he now fears for his family’s safety, and the thousands of dollars in medical bills he faces without insurance.
”I knew I was going to get beat, but not as bad as I did,” Marshall said. ”But I did it to protect my family. I didn’t have a choice. There was no need for this. We should be all getting along. But to me, it seems to be racist.”
Akron police are investigating. Right now, the case is not being classified as a racial hate crime. There were no other reports of victims assaulted by the group that night.
The department’s gang unit is involved in the investigation, police said.
”We don’t know if it’s a known gang, or just a group of kids,” police Lt. Rick Edwards said.
The Marshalls say they fear retaliation at home or when they go outside. They are considering arming themselves, but they’re concerned about the possible problems that come with guns.
For now, they are hoping police can bring them suspects. They believe they can identify several of the attackers.
”This makes you think about your freedom,” Marshall said. ”In all reality, where is your freedom when you have this going on?”