WTF !! Al Sharpton supports this family. I must admit when I first reported this I was a little suspicious due to the fact there were NO witnesses except for the family. The family claimed there was a group of 30 to 50 people. That number walking around would be noticed. I will keep an open mind though.
The FBI has been asked to join Akron police in investigating the attack on a white family by a group of black teens near Firestone Park.
In a letter to the FBI dated today, Mayor Don Plusquellic asks the federal agency's local office to help determine whether any civil-rights violations or hate crimes occurred during the attack last month on Marty Marshall and his family.
The investigation is being supported by civil-rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.
''Accounts from the victim have indicated his assailants prefaced the attack with statements that could indicate a racial motivation to the crime,'' Plusquellic wrote in his letter.
''Our priority is the same as it is with every crime: to find justice for the victims. But, it is also important that we carefully examine the motivation behind this attack and address that if necessary.''
Marshall, 39, spent five days in Akron General Medical Center after a group of black teens attacked him, his wife, two children and two adult male friends.
Akron police have confirmed from witnesses that the attack by 30 to 50 teens was unprovoked and that no words were exchanged before the attack.
The victims say the group shouted, ''This is our world,'' during the assault. Marshall says he also heard chants of, ''This is a black world.''
The assault, in which Marshall suffered extensive head injuries from repeated kicks and punches to his skull, has not yet been ruled a hate crime by Akron police.
Police told the Marshalls this week that they were unaware of the chants until reading about them in the newspaper.
Marshall, in an interview today, said police questioned him late Wednesday night about the attack and the chants he heard. His wife, Yvonne Marshall, said she recalls telling officers and a detective about the chants the night of the attack.
The remarks are not noted in a police report released by the department. A box to denote whether the attack was a hate crime is marked ''no bias/not applicable.''
''I was offended,'' Yvonne Marshall said today of the follow-up interview with police. ''The detective who was questioning me made me feel like I'm a liar, or that we didn't say it.
''I know I told them that night that the group was saying, 'This is our world.' The whole interview made me feel very uncomfortable.''
The assault occurred on Girard Street outside the home of a friend of Marshall. The friends had just returned from watching the fireworks at Firestone Park on June 27. Out of nowhere, the six were attacked by dozens of black teenage boys.
It started when one teen, without warning, stormed in and assaulted Marshall's friend, knocking him to the ground.
Marty Marshall, a construction worker, went to help his friend and protect his family and found himself being attacked by the growing group of teens.
His daughter, Rachel, 15, tried to come to his rescue. The teens pushed her to the ground.
A friend in a wheelchair was not assaulted.
Yvonne Marshall said she pushed their son, Donald, 14, into bushes to keep him protected.
After several minutes of punches and kicks, the group ran off. The Marshalls' two adult male friends were not seriously hurt.
Marty Marshall suffered a concussion and bruises to his head and eye. He spent five nights in the critical care unit at Akron General Medical Center. The family has no medical insurance and Marshall has not worked since the attack.
Marshall said this week he believed the attack was racially motivated.
Support for the Marshalls arrived this week from the Rev. Sharpton, a national activist for the black community. A spokesman said Sharpton is aware of the attack and does not condone the behavior of the teens.
Sharpton's National Action Network supports the FBI investigation, the spokesman said.
''These teens need to be punished as much as any dumb redneck in white sheets,'' said Richard Jones, a Sharpton spokesman based in Cleveland. ''Nobody should be attacked like this, whether they are black or white. These young men who are responsible need to be brought to justice.''
Plusquellic would not comment beyond the letter and a written statement, spokesman Mark Williamson said.
In the statement, the mayor said the investigation into the attack will try to determine whether it ''falls under the category of a violation of civil-rights protection and should, consequently, be considered a 'hate crime.'
''This ruling must, by law, be made by federal authorities, and therefore we are asking for their assistance in this matter. Make no mistake, most important is that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice. I know that our police department is doing everything it can to aggressively pursue the investigation into this horrible incident.
''I ask our citizens to not confuse the technical/legal issue of a federally designated 'hate crime' with the fact that our police department is taking all necessary steps to solve this crime.''
Police Chief Craig Gilbride did not respond to phone calls or a text message sent to him today for comment. The department spokesman also declined comment other than to say the attack remains under investigation.
Tina Merlitti, the Ward 7 councilwoman for the neighborhood where the attack occurred, did not return two messages left on her cell phone.
Council President Marco Sommerville expressed outrage over the attack and said he is confident Akron police will make an arrest. The Marshalls have so far been unable to identify mug shots of potential suspects.
''I'm as outraged as anyone that innocent people would be assaulted, especially when it is unprovoked,'' he said. ''It doesn't make a difference whether you're black or white. What these young men did was absolutely wrong, and they should be brought to justice.''
The Marshalls said they have been inundated with support in phone calls and e-mails from people across the United States, some offering condolences, some offering cash to help pay for Marty Marshall's medical bills.
A fund to aid the Marshall family has been set up with the Charter One Bank branch at 2147 East Ave, Akron, 44314.
''I'm dumbfounded, actually, that there are that many caring people out there,'' Marty Marshall said today. ''I'm just having a hard time grasping all this.
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