Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Police withdraw from Klan cross display

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police officers no longer will stand guard over the Ku Klux Klan's cross on Fountain Square.

        The monitoring detail was canceled Monday after complaints from City Council members, who said the assignment virtually rolled out the red carpet for the Klan.

        They also said they were concerned about reports that the cross-watching detail kept officers from helping a woman who was being assaulted a few blocks away.

        Councilwoman Alicia Reece asked that council send the Klan a bill for the special work. Council will discuss the proposal Wednesday.

        Safety Director Kent Ryan ended the special detail Monday afternoon.

        He said that he did not know why the detail was ordered, but that he would talk to the supervisor who assigned it to ask him why he thought guarding the cross was important.

        He said he needed more time to figure out what happened with the assault on the woman, however, and would have a report on that to council Wednesday.

        Firefighter Jeff Harris and Police Officer Scotty Johnson, leaders of the fire and police African-American groups, talked about the issue Monday at council's law and public safety committee meeting.

        Mr. Harris, one of the firefighters called to the scene of the assault Sunday at 14th and Vine streets, testified that it took police officers 11 minutes to respond to help what turned out to be a woman who was seven months' pregnant.

        Some of the officers, he said, claimed others could not respond because they were assigned to the cross detail.


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