Friday, February 02, 2001

Police shooting

May the truth be heard

        Gunfire erupts. Officer down. Suspect dead.

        One's white. The other's black.

        White man with the badge lives. Black man with the prison record and outstanding warrants for armed robbery dies.

        Once more, peace is shattered in another Cincinnati neighborhood.

        Corryville drew the short straw Wednesday night as death came to Donahue Avenue. Officer Craig Gregoire was wounded and went to the hospital. Adam Keith Wheeler died and went to the morgue.

        I pray my hometown deals rationally with this latest round of gunplay.

        May the truth be heard in this shooting where the suspect opened fire on police and declared he was “goin' out like a soldier.” May this latest loss of life not boil over into yet another controversy. Let everyone work together so reason prevails.

        Making sense of such incidents comes at a cost.

        Work in areas of city government grinds to a halt as a shooting is viewed and reviewed.

        So, get ready for still more investigations. And, possibly, some recriminations.

        The latter are not anticipated. This is supposed to be an open-and-shut case. Just the same, brace for strife.

        Some forces in the community may try to take advantage of this drug investigation that turned deadly.

        The divisive forces of fear and hate could try to drive an even bigger wedge between black and white, the police and the people, peace and violence.

        These forces want to put more distance between segments of society.

        They aim to build walls of intolerance between people they embrace as “us” and those they can't stand as “them.”

Making sense
        My hope is that Cincinnati remembers and relies upon what made it different from other cities. It took pride in being a clean, safe, sensible place to live.

        This place wasn't filthy like New York or depressed like Detroit.

        Downtown wasn't completely boarded up like other cities in the Midwest.

        Crime didn't flourish here. Gunfire was not supposed to be part of the day's sounds.

        Yet, when shaken witnesses described hearing shots fired Wednesday night in Corryville, they knew exactly what they heard. Gunfire. No one mistook it for an old junker of a car backfiring.

Work together

        Gunshots in the night help to feed another brand of divisiveness. Some people in the suburbs could be prompted to say: “See, that's why we left the city. That's why we don't go down there.”

        Down there is where people live, too. The residents of Donahue Street go to work and raise families.

        While some of the street's brick and frame Victorian homes are rundown, others show signs of new life. Replacement windows have recently been installed along with fancy wood trim and satellite dishes. Kids walk to and from school. They wait on street corners for buses.

        To think somehow that life and the people “down there” are different relegates them to second-class status. And, it plays right into the hands of the divisive forces of fear and hate.

        Think, instead, of unity.

        Life in Cincinnati can get better for everyone, if we stop associating problems with “them” and start seeking solutions through all of “us.”

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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