Crime in Akron, Ohio
Early crime in Akron
The first Akron police car was an electric wagon that made its appearance on the streets of Akron in 1899. Akron was one of the first Mafia cities in the 20th century Midwest. The Black Hand, led by Don Rosario Borgio, who arrived in Akron in the early 1900s, was headquartered on the city's north side. Using a general goods store as a front, Borgio set up two back rooms for illegal operations. All of the gambling and brothels in the city were extorted, along with wealthy citizens of the Italian North Hill neighborhood. In 1918 the Akron Police Department started aggressively raiding Borgio's gambling and prostitution houses, locking up the operators and patrons. Due to the interference, Borgio held a meeting in his store with Black Hand leaders, giving the order to slay every cop in the city, placing a $250 reward on each one killed. The order led to the murders of Officers Robert Norris, Edward Costigan, Joe Hunt, and Gethin Richards. Following the case filed against him by New York Detective Fiaschetti over the slayings Borgie was executed in the electric chair. After the execution Mafia activity in Akron greatly decreased. As in most cities, by the 21st century, mob activity had vanished.
Riot of 1900
In 1900, Akron experienced its worst riot in history, after the abduction and sexual assault on the six year-old daughter of the Maas family while in front of her home by Louis Peck, an African-American who had been working as a bartender on howard st. in Akron. Around midnight that day, Peck was arrested at a train station and brought back to Akron where he confessed to the crime. The next day's newspapers exaggerated Peck's confession and even printed the confession in red ink. Due to threats of lynching by a mob that had gathered in front of newly built city building (1880); the Police Chief thought quickly and arranged for Peck and another black man to be moved to Cleveland for their safety. In the evening crowds grew even larger began demanding for Peck and attempted to search the City Building, but were barred by police. Tensions escalated after police returned fire into the crowd after shots toward them were fired, return with over 100 shots, two small children were killed in the crossfire. The mob resorted to explosive dynamite blowing up the city building in attempts to get where they thought Peck was being held. Rioters even attacked firemen who attempted to put the fire out, by hitting them in the head with bricks and cutting their hoses. At a point during the riot, the mayor tried to explain out of a window of a building that Peck was taken from Akron to Cleveland, but the crowd refused to believe and continued. The mob violence lasted nearly to 4:00 the next morning when the Governor declared martial law and sent soldiers to restored order. In the aftermath of the riot, both the City Building and the Columbia building burned completely down. 31 men and boys were later convicted of charges related to the riot. Louis Peck was convicted in less than 20 minutes with no lawyer who would take his case. In 1913 he was freed by Governor Cox for wrongful imprisonment.
Wooster Ave. Riots of 1968
In July 1968, several riots occurred over the span of several days centered in the city's mostly Black populated Wooster Ave./Edgewood Ave. area. The exact cause of the riots have been debated until this day, with the riot itself being well documented. On July 16, Akron Police Department officers were called to quell several fights in the area between black gangs from the city's north and west sides of town. Although initially quelled, the gang members continued a running fight with one another and the APD well into the morning. The police department responded with higher and higher numbers of patrol units in the area to contain and arrest the gang members within the area, with an arbitrary curfew being enacted. By late the next morning of July 17, new police officers arrived to ensure the police actions from the night before were continued and peace restored. However at this point many residents of the area had begun to gather on Wooster Ave. near Edgewood Ave., having heard rumors of excessive violence on the part of the APD. Tensions between citizens and the APD had by this point had become high due to long-standing vendettas between the two sides based on an array of issues from discrimination, to police brutality. This is widely believed to have been the flash-point of the riots, as the black citizens began berating and challenging the APD officers. With the first arrests of some of the citizens, the level of confrontation and hostilities rose until a full scale riot was in progress. The majority of the local citizens in the area retreated to their homes in order to protect their property, while others left the area all together to avoid being swept up in the coming turmoil.
The scope of the riot initially remained within the scope of the Wooster/Edgewood area, but as more and more people arrived from other areas of the city, the riot soon spilled into downtown Akron itself. Sometime later in the evening or night, the National Guard was mobilized to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation and in place around the Wooster Ave./Edgewood Ave. area by the morning of the 18th. As the rioting began anew, the National Guard deployed a massive amount of tear gas in the area remembered by local residents as "just a huge cloud on the ground". This effectively ended the riot as a whole with most residents seeking escape from the gas, and citizens who had arrived to the area to witness/join the riot quickly left the area by their own means. Throughout the whole time while occupying Akron, the guards camped inside the Rubber Bowl. Almost immediately the Mayor of Akron, John S. Ballard called for an independent commission to detail the events of the riot, and to investigate the root causes of it. The riot officially was recognized as being put down on the 23rd, with the investigative commission being appointed on the 26th.
Riots of 2009
On March 14, 2009 Akron experienced its most recent rioting. On that Saturday, a female minor was spotted by an APD officer while screaming profanities along Newton Street. The officer warned her multiple times to stop, but the teen refused. The officer then exited his cruiser and attempted to arrest her for disorderly conduct. The sixteen-year-old girl began striking the police officer, bloodying his nose. While the struggle was still occurring, a crowd watching the event rushed towards the scene, forcing the officer to draw his Taser and order them to stay back, but he was ignored. The riot was quelled after several back-up officers arrived. Paramedics arrived and treated the officer and two citizens. Seven suspects, both adults and minors, were charged with crimes including aggravated riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer.
In July 2009, a group attack occurred in the Firestone neighborhood of Akron. The attack was committed by a group of African-American teens, who attacked a white family due to their race. The teens were said to be heard saying "this is a black world now" as they beat the white family, which included a paraplegic man. His wheelchair was pushed over, and he was thrown to the ground. The Akron Police apprehended suspects shortly after the incident, but did not give the victims a chance to identify them.
- "City of Akron: News Releases 2009: State of the City Presentation". Ci.akron.oh.us. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- Nash, Jay Robert (1993). World encyclopedia of organized crime. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-306-80535-9. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "The Riot of 1900". History of Akron. City of Akron. September 1, 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- "ascpl.lib.oh.us/internetresources/sc/OnlineBooks/Commitee-Report-Civildisorders.pdf" (PDF).
- "Akron police arrest seven in riot over arrest of teenager". Sun News. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
- A. "ATTACK IN FIRESTONE PARK, AMID THE UNSETTLED FACTS, A FEW CERTAINTIES". Akron Beacon Journal. July 23, 2009. p. 10.