Friday, April 13, 2001

The riots

Teaching peace is essential

        The city is at war. Cincinnati needs a sign of peace.

        Mob violence has raged since Monday. A dusk-to-dawn curfew is in force.

        Now's the time for the good, decent, law-abiding citizens of this town to send home a message of peace.

        Tell your children: Violence is wrong. It has to stop. We must learn to live together in peace.

        Do it today. In the suburbs and in the inner city. Give added meaning to this Good Friday.

        Lives are at stake. Calm must be restored. Cincinnati needs to be a safe place to raise children. They are our future. Without peace, tomorrow's lost.


        The mob's outrage was ignited by the shooting death of Timothy Thomas. The unarmed 19-year-old man with 14 outstanding warrants died early Saturday. He was shot by Officer Steve Roach after running from police.

        Since then, Cincinnati has been a place of unrest. Fires have been set. Store windows smashed. Shops looted. Innocent people pulled from their cars and beaten. Rioters hit with Mace, rubber bullets and beanbag ammo. One officer wounded.

        Such violence — no matter what its source or cause — cannot be condoned. It must be condemned.

        At first, I thought a peace march would help. I remembered the success a group of Irish women had in 1976 after organizing marches against the murderous religious strife plaguing Belfast.

        Maybe I recalled the troubles in Ireland because of what I witnessed this week in Cincinnati.

        Never during these warm, beautiful April days did I expect to see such scenes in my hometown. They reminded me of TV news footage from the bloody streets of the world's infamous trouble spots.

        This local chaos made a march protesting violence too dangerous. No one should die marching for peace.

        “Still, everyone in the community needs to simmer down,” said Pamela Eakes, founder of Seattle's Mothers Against Violence.

        Her group is taking part in easing tensions following Seattle's recent Mardi Gras riots. One lesson she teaches is: “Don't take to the streets. Talk to each other at home.”

Parent-child peace talks

        To promote peace, Nancy Ruhe-Munch — executive director of the Cincinnati-based Parents of Murdered Children — suggested parents stress these points with their children:

        • Violence solves nothing.

        • Violent acts — from brick throwing to murder — cause permanent pain.

        • Violence, grief, death and outrage “have no color. This is not a black-white issue. Everyone's involved.”

        • Rioting in the streets “is not right, no matter how angry people are.”

        • Never perpetuate stereotypes of disrespect. “Don't say: "Never trust a cop,'” she noted, “or: "Let blacks kill each other.'”

        • Preach respect. “Only then will we have no riots and come together.”

        • Let the children have the last word. “Ask them what they would do to stop the violence.

        “They are the next generation,” Nancy added. “They can be smarter than us adults. They might have suggestions for stopping the violence.”

        At this point, we're open to anything. The city needs peace.

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


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