Friday, April 13, 2001

Curfew restores calm


State of emergency may last through weekend

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Officer stands guard with pistol drawn while others arrest curfew violators at Elm and Green streets.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        Cincinnati breathed easier as a curfew that saw more police and fewer people on the streets helped prevent a third straight night of violence.

        About 100 people were arrested on curfew violations and one for a misdemeanor warrant during the curfew hours, 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. today. There were no reports of serious disturbances. City streets were calm, compared to the chaos of Tuesday and Wednesday.

        It's expected the curfew will last through the weekend.

        “I am grateful so far that citizens are responding to this,” Mayor Charlie Luken said. “We have a very long way to go. I am thankful for all of the African-American leaders who have urged peace.”

NO BUS SERVICE DURING CURFEW
  Queen City Metro suspended bus service - not just in Cincinnati, but in the entire service area - during the curfew hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
How curfew works
List of cancellations
        During a tour of the city after the curfew took effect, Mr. Luken said the streets were quiet. He saw “not one single person,” he said.

        Just before midnight, the mayor said, “I would be very surprised if (the curfew) ends before Sunday, before Easter.”

        After the curfew took effect Thursday night, the police presence on the streets of Cincinnati's riot-torn neighborhoods changed. Instead of columns of officers with shields and riot gear marching into crowds of demonstrators — as on Tuesday and Wednesday nights — officers cruised deserted neighborhoods in cars and police vans.

        “There is absolutely nothing happening. District 1 is so quiet you could roll a bowling ball through it,” said S. Gregory Baker, acting safety director.

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Vine Street in Corryville, outside Bogart's, was deserted when the curfew went into effect.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        It was the first deep breath the city could take since rampaging bands tore through Over-the-Rhine on Tuesday night and the violence spread to a half-dozen other neighborhoods after sundown Wednesday.

        What sparked the worst rioting Cincinnati had seen in more than 30 years was the death Saturday of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19-year-old shot by Cincinnati Police Officer Steve Roach.

        Since 1995, 15 black men have died at the hands of Cincinnati police, four of them since November. No other people have been killed by police in Cincinnati since 1995.

        From Corryville through Over-the-Rhine, the streets were quiet soon after the curfew began Thursday night.

        Downtown, normally busy restaurants were closed. Around 8:45 p.m., downtown streets were deserted, with few cars and even fewer pedestrians.

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Men watch from their stoop on Liberty Avenue near Main Street as police cars roll by.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        The streets of Over-the-Rhine just before 10 p.m. Thursday were also empty. The few people outside were a far cry from the hundreds who flooded the streets the night before.

        In Over-the-Rhine, sidewalks and streets were strewn with debris from the rioting, but were otherwise nearly empty.

        At least 75 Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers — trained in riot control — were sent by Gov. Bob Taft at the request of city officials. Their request: Help a Cincinnati police force physically and emotionally strained by nights of flames and destruction that put the city in the national spotlight.

        Mr. Luken declared a state of emergency Thursday morning and ordered a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The mayor said Mr. Taft advised him to request the highway patrol.

        Throughout the day, Mr. Luken seemed to express remorse for the need to impose the curfew and declare an emergency.

        “I have lived in this city all of my life and I love it to death,” the mayor said. “I never thought I would sign an emergency order because of civil unrest.”

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Police arrest curfew violators on Elder Street shortly after 8 p.m.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        On Thursday, Kweisi Mfume, the president of the NAACP, met with Mr. Luken before an evening church rally in Avondale. The civil rights leader told the mayor Cincinnati has one of the nation's worst records of racial profiling by its police.

        “Obviously, the protest shows there is a huge outcry in the community about legitimate frustrations between police and African-American residents,” Mr. Luken said before that meeting.

        “But those protests must be separated from the violence occurring in the streets. Clearly, Cincinnati has a problem with police-community relations.”

        In an evening radio interview, Mr. Luken added, “We cannot deny that we have a serious racial divide.”

        He also damned people who spoke of “15 murders” of black men by Cincinnati police, saying that many of those were shot after they shot at police.

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Mayor Charlie Luken declares state of emergency.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        Mayor Luken also apologized for discussing the deaths on Nightline without acknowledging the white and black police officers killed by African-Americans in the past couple years.

        Police updated their totals of people arrested for offenses and crimes related to the rioting. A total of 148 people, including 27 juveniles, have been arrested since Tuesday morning.

        Just before the curfew went into effect, about 400 people packed New Friendship Baptist Church on Reading Road for a community meeting where Mr. Mfume delivered an emotional speech describing Cincinnati as “the belly of the storm.”

        “We have appealed for calm ... We want the world to see we are respectful,” said Mr. Mfume. “We don't want to burn down. We want to build up.”

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NAACP president Kweisi Mfume speaks to the crowd outside New Friendship Baptist Church.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The meeting ended about a half-hour before the 8 p.m. curfew went into effect. As about 200 people lingered on the steps of New Friendship, a church elder pleaded with them to go home.

        “You have 25 minutes,” he shouted. “You have to understand (the police) are waiting for us.”

        Early Thursday, the anxiety felt by Cincinnatians over the disturbances spilled over to some suburban communities that ring the city.

        In Norwood, Mayor Joe Hochbein also called an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in his city because of its proximity to the Cincinnati neighborhood of Evanston, where much violence occurred Wednesday night.

        City officials in Cheviot, which also borders the city, declared a curfew of 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.

        Green Township trustees ordered a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew through Sunday for those 18 and younger.

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Dion Jackson of Westwood raises his fisted hand outside the New Friendship Baptist Church where Kweisi Mfume spoke.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        People throughout the Tristate were expected to be affected by the curfew. Many have complained to city officials.

        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. Some in the riot-torn areas were saying they plan to ignore the curfew.

        “I pay my taxes. I shouldn't have to be penalized for other individuals' actions,” said Elaine Coffy-Vinson, who lives near Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. “I plan to be outside my house tonight even if it means getting arrested.”

        But city officials insist the curfew is their only way of trying to quell the rioting.

        It was the first time a citywide curfew has been declared since the riots that erupted in black neighborhoods after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

        Mr. Taft said the idea of using the Ohio National Guard to quell the riots has not been discussed in talks with the mayor's office.

        “The request from the city was for us to provide some additional support,” he said.

Violence widespread

        The declaration came after police squared off with rioters and looters in Over-the-Rhine, Avondale, Bond Hill, Walnut Hills, West End and Madisonville.

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Police escort a fire truck on a run.
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        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 on charges that included inducing a riot, failure to disperse, criminal damage and drug abuse.

        The destruction was immense to businesses surrounding the historic Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. But on Thursday, Councilman John Cranley urged city residents to do their shopping there Saturday to show “we will not let this lawlessness rule.”

        Findlay Market merchants, however, had yet to decide whether they would reopen Saturday. (Easter is typically one of the market's biggest weekends.)

        Mr. Luken said the violence of Tuesday and Wednesday nights, which started with protests over Saturday's shooting, could no longer be tolerated.

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Shannon Ferrell displays a wound from a bean-bag shot.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        By declaring a state of emergency, the mayor effectively assumed control of the police department and assumed the ability to declare a curfew. He said Wednesday night that he wanted to avoid that at all costs, but Thursday morning it was clear drastic measures needed to be taken.

        The calling-in of Ohio State Highway Patrol officers was only the fourth time an Ohio governor has called out the patrol or the Ohio National Guard since the May 1970 fatal shootings of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen.

        In December 1973 and again in February 1974, Gov. John Gilligan sent the patrol and guardsmen in response to truckers' strikes in northern and central Ohio.

        In 1993, Gov. George Voinovich sent the patrol and guardsmen to a prison riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville in which nine inmates and one guard died.

        Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher said Thursday that legitimate protests turned 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.

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A suspicious fire overnight at the Redwood Carryout at 3610 Woodford Road in Kennedy Heights might have been connected to this week's violence.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Many churches changed service hours to accommodate the curfew.

        “We understand this is a holy week,” Mr. Luken said. “We ask those citizens whose services are affected to stay in their houses and pray.”

        Representatives from two U.S. Department of Justice field offices arrived in Cincinnati Thursday to listen to city leaders' and citizens' concerns about this week's civil unrest.

        “What we do is conduct an on-site assessment,” said Patricia Glenn of the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service office in Chicago. “It is not an investigation.”

        Thursday morning, Cincinnati police officers continued to comb Over-the-Rhine for a man who shot at a Cincinnati police officer near Green and Vine streets shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, when the melee was at its peak.

        The 37-year-old police officer, Andrew Nogueira, was fortunate; the bullet bounced off his belt buckle. Hours later, he was back on the job.

        The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall, heavyset, African-American male wearing a gray sweat-shirt 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, praising fellow officers and accusing elected officials of inciting violence.

        “This city needs to wake up,” Mr. Fangman said. “You've got people like (Councilwoman) Alicia Reece and Charlie Luken, both of whom have inflamed this community with their repeated 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,” Mr. Fangman said.

        While the talk of what happened and why went was discussed on the radio, in City Hall and on the streets Thursday, the disturbances and the imposition of a curfew had a direct impact on people.

        Several of Greater Cincinnati'st hospitals are within city borders. City officials have said that hospitals will stay open despite the curfew.

        “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 within city borders. Jewish, Fort Hamilton and the two St. Luke hospitals in Northern Kentucky are not affected by the curfew.

        Enquirer staffers Tim Bonfield, Mark Curnutte, Kevin Aldridge, Cindi Andrews, Kristina Goetz, Janice Morse, Susan Vela, Dan Klepal, Jane Prendergast, Robert Anglen, Spencer Hunt, Ray Schaefer and Rosemary Goudreau contributed to this report.



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