Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Group plans lawsuit, boycott in effort to change police

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Angered by the deaths of two African-American men during their arrests by Cincinnati police last week, a fledgling black civil rights organization Tuesday formalized plans to file a class action lawsuit against the city and boycott downtown stores during the holiday season.

        The planned legal action and boycott are designed to put pressure on city officials to make systematic changes in the operation of the Cincinnati Police Division.

        “What we're going to have to do is take the lead, and others will follow,” the Rev. Damon Lynch III, chairman of the Cincinnati Black United Front (CBUF), said Tuesday night to a crowd of about 50 people at New Prospect Bap tist Church in Over-the-Rhine.

        CBUF members voted to initiate legal proceedings against the city, hoping the courts can force changes in the police division that would allow more citizen input on hiring, promotions, investigations of alleged wrongdoing and discipline. The group hopes to obtain the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union in preparing and filing the suit.

        A Black Holidays 2000 boycott of downtown Cincinnati merchants is scheduled to begin Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving, when the Christmas holiday shopping unofficially begins.

        The CBUF is calling on “all African-Americans and fair-minded people” not to patronize merchants in the downtown area, from Central Parkway to the Ohio River.

        Those participating in the boy cott will be urged to do their holiday shopping at the Swifton Commons shopping center in Roselawn.

        “We're going to take empty stores and rent them to merchants and vendors, said the Rev. William Land, who is heading the boycott effort.

        The special holiday market at the shopping center is scheduled to open Dec. 15, said the Rev. Mr. Land.

        “Actually, we're talking about (making it like) Ujima in the neighborhoods,” the Rev. Mr. Land said.

        The CBUF was formed 2 1/2 months ago to protest the closing of a number of downtown restaurants during the Ujima Cinci-Bration and Cincinnati Coors Light festivals. Those events attract predominately black crowds.


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