AKRON, Ohio — Several artists and volunteers spent Thursday morning and afternoon painting a large Black Lives Matter mural on North Howard Street, the same area where 18-year-old Na'kia Crawford was shot to death on Sunday.
The mural, between the intersections of Cuyahoga and North Streets, is 300 feet long. The letters are about 25 feet high.
The work "Black" is painted in red. "Lives" is painted in black and "Matters" is painted in green, the colors of the Pan-African flag.
A few ago, Akron Councilwoman Tara Samples petitioned the city for the mural. Approval was granted earlier this week.
"It's important to be out here and I think it's important for our city to show that they are in support of black lives and that they understand the history of what African Americans have went through in this country," Samples said.
Akron artist Nichole Epps helped design the mural and said art is a common way for the black community to express their angst.
"For me, it's a mantra of inclusion. It's one that encourages people to speak out and come together to have those hard conversations so we can find solutions to these hard problems," Epps said.
On Sunday afternoon, Crawford, who recently graduated from Akron North High School, was shot while driving her grandmother to the bank. She died at an Akron hospital.
On Thursday afternoon, Akron police announced that they have identified three suspects in the case.
18-year-old Makaylah Clark, a recent Firestone High School graduate, painted part of the mural on Thursday morning.
She said painting was fun and relaxing during a time that is complicated and stressful.
For Clark, the then-unsolved murder of a young woman her age only added to the gravity of the message.
"It's a very important message so her case doesn't go unsolved and many people like her should have the chance to get justice," Clark said.