Law on Roadside Memorials Upsets Akron Residents

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AKRON, Ohio — It’s a somber and familiar site that’s become a controversial issue. Now, a new law that puts a 45-day time limit on roadside memorials is in effect.

Over the past few days, 17 memorials throughout Akron have been removed.

Not everyone agrees with the time limit.

It’s a memorial. I believe that memorials should stay up to remind everybody what could happen,” said Akron resident Dustin Blackstone.

The mother of 10-year-old Tony Swain is supposed to remove her son’s memorial this weekend. Back in 2005, Swain was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he was trying to shield his sister on their way to school. His memorial touches a nerve for many neighbors who are upset that it must come down.

“I think they should stay up. That’s a good memory why people shouldn’t be driving through those neighborhoods and acting stupid,” said neighbor Brian Combs.

Although the crosswalk signs will remain in Swain’s honor, neighbors say the memorial serves as a necessary reminder of an unsolved case.

“That little kid saved his little sister’s life. That little dude got heart. They should keep it up. It doesn’t make this city trashy,” said Combs.

“We can do what we’ve always done: go to the cemetery,” said Beechwood Blockwatch Leader Gerald Stafford.

Stafford says he understands why the Swain memorial is a delicate issue, but adds that many of the memorials in his neighborhood exist for an entirely different set of circumstances.

“They spray painted the guys name in the middle of the street,” said Stafford. “A lot of these memorials are put up because of drug killings, and we don’t want to glorify drug killings.”

If the memorial exists past the 45-day deadline, city workers will bag up the items and take them to a storage facility, where they will be held for two weeks. If they are not claimed within that time period, the items will be thrown out.

In the meantime, city workers will try to notify the families about the deadline.

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