AKRON, Ohio — Up roughly 50% from this level final 12 months, the variety of homicides this 12 months in Akron is on tempo for a ten-year document. The town’s Kenmore neighborhood has made greater than its justifiable share of them. Nevertheless, a mom who misplaced her daughter to gun violence throughout an particularly violent summer time is decided to do one thing about it — one can of paint at a time.
On July 3, Janine Surgen, 20, was strolling close to the nook of West twenty seventh Road and Waterloo Highway, when a white Kia pulled up alongside her and a number of pictures have been fired. Surgen was discovered unresponsive and later died on the hospital. A half-hour later, Akron police arrested Jaleel Sojourner, 25, and recognized him as the motive force within the taking pictures. Calvin Thompson, 16, and Xaxier Tolbert, 17, have been additionally within the automobile and have been charged with complicity to commit aggravated homicide, in response to Akron police.
Police imagine Sojourner and Surgen had been in some sort of relationship.
For Brenna Surgen, Janine’s mom, the previous 4 months have been excruciatingly troublesome. Nevertheless, as a substitute of letting the grief eat her, she’s making an attempt to channel it into one thing constructive.
“I do not need one other mother or father, one other sister, one other cousin, one other niece or nephew, or one other good good friend to undergo what I am going by,” Surgen mentioned. “When anyone is murdered, it is a totally different degree of anger and grief and hatred and, oh my gosh, the confusion.”
Janine Surgen’s childhood house is roughly two blocks away from the place she was killed. Midway in between is Mary Black’s Synthetic Flowers and Provides, a neighborhood mainstay that has offered artwork provides for greater than six many years. Proprietor Marylyn Berresford fondly remembers Janine coming by the shop as a baby, wanting to work on her subsequent artwork venture.
“She was a really good little lady, very well mannered,” Berresford mentioned. “She was actually thinking about making various things. She was very fairly, very outgoing. She was a beautiful child, she actually was. Even now, excited about it, it actually upsets me that one thing like that would occur. It is only a tragic, tragic factor.”
Final weekend, when Brenna Surgen approached her with the concept of portray a mural on the again of her constructing, Berresford did not flinch. The cinderblock wall, roughly 25 ft lengthy and 10 ft excessive, had been tagged with graffiti prior to now.
It could be the proper clean canvas.
“I am proud that they’ll use my constructing for that,” Berresford mentioned. “To me it is actually an honor for them to wish to do that.”
After her preliminary elation, Surgen was met with actuality.
“I used to be simply so tremendous pumped after which it hit me that I am placing my daughter’s image on the wall. She’s by no means coming again,” Surgen mentioned.
For the previous two days, volunteers and shut household pals like Chris Hardin have been diligently sketching, outlining, and portray the mural, which depicts a stairway to heaven inscribed with the phrases, ‘cease the violence.’ Hardin, a tattoo artist, was near Janine Surgen and her household.
“It is a good feeling to have the ability to be concerned, particularly the road violence a part of it,” Hardin mentioned. “This has to cease. I do not assume any of our households can actually deal with one other one. My coronary heart hurts for her mother.”
Finally, the mural will function Janine’s face together with the names of different Kenmore residents which were misplaced to gang violence. Along with honoring her daughter, Brenna Surgen hopes the mural will ship a message.
“Road violence goes to get you both lifeless or in jail,”Surgen mentioned. “Half my message is for those who do not cease, you are gonna find yourself on this wall.”
For Hardin, creative expression can be a private one. Portray alongside his fiancee and daughter, he’s reminded of how shut he got here to by no means coming again.
“I’ve acquired two children of my very own with one on the way in which. It is time for me to vary my life too, you understand what I imply?” Hardin mentioned. “I used to be in the identical place as all these different children out right here. I went to jail and I modified. It is not onerous. It is simply your alternative.”