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Riots put Cincinnati under state of emergency
On 4th day of unrest, mayor announces citywide curfew By Liz Sidoti The Associated Press
April 12, 2001, 12:10 PM EDT
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken declared a state of emergency and announced a citywide curfew as riots over the police shooting of an unarmed black man stretched into a fourth day today.
Only people going to and from work will be allowed on the streets between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Mayor Charles Luken said.
"Despite the best efforts of the good citizens of our city, the violence on our streets is uncontrolled and it runs rampant," Luken said at a news conference at City Hall. "The time has come to deal with this seriously. The message ... is that the violence must stop."
Officials in the city of 331,000 have considered asking the state to call out the Ohio National Guard, but no decision had been made, Luken said.
The fatal shooting over the weekend of Timothy Thomas, 19, by a white officer sparked days of unrest, a federal investigation, and calls for accountability.
Thomas was killed as he fled Officer Steven Roach, who was trying to arrest him for failing to appear for misdemeanor charges and traffic violations. Roach's union said he feared for his life during the encounter.
Tensions between blacks and police have heightened over the past few years. Since 1995, 15 black men died at the hands of police, including four since November.
Small groups of vandals roamed several neighborhoods Wednesday night and early today, breaking windows, looting stores and assaulting at least one white motorist who was dragged from her car, police said. Others in the neighborhood came to the woman's aid.
A police officer was shot Wednesday night, but the buckle of his gun belt caught the bullet and saved him, though he was severely bruised, Luken said. No arrest had been made in that shooting.
Youths reinvaded several stores that had previously been looted in Over-the-Rhine, a poor and predominantly black district just north of downtown.
"I think the black citizens are tired and scared, I think the white citizens are tired and scared," Luken said. "There's gunfire going on here like you might hear in Beirut. It's dangerous and it's getting more dangerous."
At least 66 people have been arrested on such charges as disorderly conduct, criminal rioting, obstruction, felony assault, theft and breaking and entering since the violence began Monday.
Luken said he signed a document minutes before the news conference declaring the state of emergency, and City Manager John Shirey authorized the curfew to begin tonight.
"We don't like the fact that we have to declare a curfew," said the mayor, who was flanked by five of the nine city council members. "For 99.9 percent of the citizens of our city, a curfew is completely unnecessary. We ask our citizens to bear with us."
It was not immediately clear how the curfew would affect a planned nighttime town meeting called by Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He had planned to lead the meeting tonight at a church near downtown.
A man interrupted Luken at the news conference to ask whether the mayor was ready to meet with a group calling itself the New Black Panthers. He was pulled out of the room after shouting that the mayor was a "liar."
"That's the kind of incivility we've been dealing with," Luken said. Copyright © 2001, The Associated Press
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), April 12, 2001
Curfew in effect in Cincinnati, Norwood
---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Queen City Metro suspends all service during curfew
The Cincinnati Enquirer Cincinnati and Norwood entered a citywide curfew at 8 p.m. following two nights of violence. The curfew will not apply to people traveling to and from work, but everyone else is ordered off the streets until 6 a.m. under threat of arrest.
Before it even began, the lockdown was having a major impact.
• Queen City Metro suspended bus service - not just in Cincinnati, but in the entire service area - during the curfew hours.
• Business owners and employers are questioning whether their workers can get to work, especially with Metro's plans to halt bus service during the restricted times. Retail and other establishments fear the loss of business from the forced closings.
Store managers at the upscale Rookwood Commons shopping mall in Norwood were upset the mall would close for the curfew.
Kelly O'Donnell, manager at Salon LA, expected to lose about $2,000 Thursday night.
“Easter week is one of the busiest weeks. Plus, our clients are rescheduling because they're scared,”she said.
James Lamont, manager at P.F. Chang's China Bistro said Thursday nights usually net between $8,000 and $10,000, but tonight the restaurant will lose five hours by closing.
“The whole thing is a waste of time for everyone,” he said of the civil disturbance. “It's affecting businesses that don't need to be affected.”
Not all businesses were complaining. Brom Espy, owner of the Hawken Shop pawn shop in Norwood, said he was closing early at 5:45 p.m. because of the curfew, but in the meantime business is booming. He sells guns. Sales at his store have increased dramatically over the past two days for “obvious” reasons.
“I gurantee you that if they (rioters) come down here and start throwing crap at my place, I'll shoot at 'em. It may not be legal, but I'll be goddamed if I'm going to get rolled over.”
Gov. Bob Taft is sending 75 troopers to our area to assist police weary after two nights of violence. Gov. Taft advised Mayor Charlie Luken to request the highway patrol rather the Ohio National Guard.
“They are the best-trained troops for this. If we need to go to a more locked-down situation, we may need the National Guard then,” Mr. Luken said.
Gov. Taft said the idea of using the national guard to quell the riots has never been discussed in talks with the Mayor's office.
“The request from the city was for us to provide some additional support,” he said.
The governor declined comment on the mayor's vow to call for the guard if unrest continues, calling such talk speculative. Instead he said state troopers sent to help Cincinnati Police are prepared to deal with riot situations.
“They get training twice a year in dealing with civil unrest,” Mr. Taft said. “The most valuable professionals we have available right now are members of the State Highway Patrol.”
Things were relatively calm in the city Thursday afternoon, but relatively minor incidents were beginning to crop up in Over-the- Rhine as neighborhood people started gathering on the streets.
Shortly after 1 p.m., about 20 police officers in riot gear were moving people off Vine Street at 12th Street and had one person in custody after a fist-fight broke out on the street.
Earlier today, police updated their totals of people arrested for offenses and crimes related to the last two nights melee. A total of 148 people, including 27 juveniles, have been arrested as of Thursday morning.
But city officials insist it is their only way to contain and quell the rioting that broke out in at least six predominately black Cincinnati neighborhoods. For the past two nights police squared off with rioters and looters in Over-the-Rhine, Avondale, Bond Hill, Walnut Hills and the West End.
Police Chief Tom Streicher said Thursday that legitimate protests turned ugly and violent as darkness fell Wednesday, with troublemakers using the cover of darkness to set fires, break store windows and assault motorists.
“The people out there voicing their anger and frustration, that group is not the same group that is out there at night,” the chief said.
Twenty-two juveniles and 60 adults were arrested in Wednesday night's violence. Most of the arrests took place in Over-the-Rhine, said Lt. Ray Ruberg, spokesman for the Cincinnati Police.
On Tuesday night, 66 people - including five juveniles - were arrested Tuesday on charges that included inducing a riot, failure to disperse, criminal damage and drug abuse.
Cincinnati police officers continued to comb Over-the-Rhine for a man who shot at a Cincinnati police officer near the corner of Green and Vine streets shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, when the melee was at its peak.
The 37-year-old police officer was fortunate: the bullet bounced off his belt buckle.
Lt. Roger Wolf said, “Innocent people need to be protected.... We have to get this guy off the streets. Frankly, this is very urgent.”
The suspect is described as a six-foot tall heavyset, African- American male wearing a gray sweatshirt and shorts, identified by some as middle-aged.
Keith Fangman, president of the Queen City Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, went on a radio talk show Thursday morning to praise fellow officers and accuse elected officials of inciting violence.
“You've got people like (Councilwoman) Alicia Reese and Charlie Luken, both of whom have inflamed this community with their repeated statements,” said Mr. Fangman, who himself has been criticized for his contentious statements.
“Just before the riots started, the mayor was repeatedly saying we have far too many African American males being killed at the hands of Cincinnati police. That's coming from the mayor. Now, if that doesn't give some thug an excuse to go out and riot, I don't know what does.”
Thursday morning, at the City Hall press conference the mayor called the curfew and state of emergency “unprecedented and, a week ago, unthinkable.”
With several African-Americans shouting protests inside the packed press room and outside in the hall, Mr. Luken made it clear that the larger issues of improving relations between police and the black community would have to wait.
“There is a very legitimate and real problem with race relations and how this city is going to heal itself,” Mr. Luken said. “We have to be absolutely clear that we won't tolerate this violence.”
Several who shouted protests during the press conference were escorted from the room.
At least three hours before, several City Council members joined an early-morning meeting with Mr. Luken and about a dozen business leaders.
City Council member Phil Heimlich said the only priority now should be to stop the violence.
"I think what everyone needs to do is demand order,” he said. “These aren't protesters, these are criminals.”
“The key is, we've got to stop this before it gets worse,” council member Pat DeWine said. “We have to be absolutely clear that we won't tolerate this violence.”
Mr. Luken would not comment on police strategy and would not estimate how much damage already had occurred. He said he took the state of emergency action with “a very heavy and sad heart.”
Several of Greater Cincinnati's largest hospitals are located within city borders. City officials have acknowledged that hospitals will stay open regardless of the curfew.
But hospital officials say some personnel on night shift have called in to question whether they will be allowed to travel to work. They will be.
“We want to get the message out that health care workers need to come to work,” said Gail Myers, spokeswoman for the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati.
The Health Alliance includes six hospitals. Of those, Christ and University hospitals are located within city borders. Jewish, Fort Hamilton and the two St. Luke hospitals in Northern Kentucky are not affected by the curfew.
Hoxworth Blood Center issued a public call for blood donors Thursday because officials are concerned that the city curfew and continuing civil unrest will scare away donors just as the city might need blood supplies to help injured people.
Gunshot wounds can require up to 50 units of red blood cells and 50 to 100 units of platelets, said Meg Wilkens, director of donor recruitment. However, the blood bank was 226 units below normal supply levels on Thursday.
“We are concerned that low supplies and the current crisis in our city may cause a need for additional blood and we will then face an emergency situation,” Ms. Wilkens said.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 12, 2001.
I am a white guy with ALOT of black friends and neighbors and these blacks need to understand that it's not the white race that needs a good ass kick-n it's the jack-boot thug cops. Take the Waco or Ruby Ridge or many other incidents where whites were killed by these freaks that want take away our freedom. I'm not saying that it was right to kill this boy, but just because the cop was white does not mean that ALL whites are bad. A lot are but not all. Just like there are VERY few good cops left, some but not many. It's to bad because when it's time to take them down the good ones may have to go down with the bad. It was their choice to become a cop so that is the risk they chose. Blacks and whites need to band together and let go of your hate and let go of the past cause we got a war to fight TOGETHER!! We need to stand up for our freedom and fight these freedom thieves and delete them one at a time if need be. It is time to stand and be counted. To bad it has come to this, it's so sad. At one time you could teach your kids about the nice police that was there to help you. NO MORE!! They are there for ONE reason and thats to SERVE you tickets and injustice and to PROTECT their job and bank accounts. Lets get our act together here and think hard about whom our REAL enemies are. The bastards that are white and back shooting and killing the black and white freedom lovers. THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!!!
-- NdewTyme (NdewTyme@NdewT.com), April 13, 2001.
Calm Before Storm? — Cincinnati authorities defended police tactics and the city's public safety director resigned today as officials prepared for possible protests Saturday.
Hundreds are expected to attend the funeral of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black man who was killed last weekend by officer Stephen Roach, who is white. Following his death, Cincinnati was rocked by three straight nights of riots, which were stopped by an indefinite curfew imposed Thursday by Mayor Charles Luken.
Today, Cincinnati Public Safety Director Kent Ryan, who oversees the police and fire departments, resigned. Ryan cited health problems and not critics' demands for change in the police department since the riots erupted Monday.
‘We're Not a Band of Rogue Nazis’
Local black leaders and the NAACP have noted that Cincinnati police have killed 15 black males since 1995. Thomas was the fourth to die since November. They said the city must address the real problem — racial tension, especially between Cincinnati police and blacks.
Saying he wanted to tell "the other side of the story," Cincinnati police union president Keith Fangman asserted the other police shootings were justified. Addressing reporters, Fangman said 10 out of the 15 men killed were armed and either pointed their guns at or fired at officers when they were shot.
"I have a hard time understanding the criticism we've received this week, and I'd like someone from the media to try and explain it to me," said Fangman. "One of the [deceased] suspects tried to smash a cop in the head with a brick. … We're not some band of rogue Nazis hunting down and killing blacks in the streets of Cincinnati."
Fangman said officers would continue to act according to their training if they feel their lives are threatened in certain situations.
Still, Attorney General John Ashcroft told the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division today to review the procedures, policy and training of the Cincinnati Police Department. The FBI is also investigating whether Roach violated Thomas' civil rights during their encounter.
Relatively Successful Curfew
Thomas, 19, was killed as he fled Roach, who was trying to arrest him for failing to appear for misdemeanor charges and traffic violations. Roach, who is on paid administrative leave, has not commented on the shooting, but his defenders say he thought his life was in danger because he saw Thomas reach for something during their encounter in a dark alley. No gun was recovered at the scene.
Police called Thursday night's curfew a success, despite the arrest of 153 people for curfew violations and scattered reports of looting.
"We believe we are returning to a great sense of normalcy," said the Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr., at a news briefing.
Despite Thursday night's calm, Cincinnati entered in its second straight night of curfews. Curfew violations are a first-degree misdemeanor that carry sentences of up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
ABCNEWS' Aaron Brown, ABCNEWS Radio's Mike Schell and Geoff Morrell, and ABCNEWS affiliate WCPO contributed to this report.
http://my.abcnews.go.com/PRINTERFRIENDLY? PAGE=http://abcsource.starwave.com/sections/us/DailyNews/shooting_prot est_pm_010413.html
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), April 14, 2001.
Riots come as no surpriseThe most recent death occurred April 7 when an
officer shot and killed a 19-year-old black man
after a brief chase.
. . .
Of the 15 men who have been killed by police or
while in police custody since 1995, the citizen
review panel has reviewed investigation reports
on two. Borders said those reports have not been
thorough, and it has been difficult for panel
members to receive additional information.
Overall, the review panel has received little
cooperation from police since forming two years
ago, Borders said.
. . .
``Police authority to arrest, to detain, to use
force -- even deadly force -- has to be utilized
within reason,'' he said. ``The issues which are
explosive today are based upon the fact that
officers throughout the country are not using
that authority with the level of reasonableness
that communities expect.''
The Beacon Journal
-- spider (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 14, 2001.