Thursday, April 19, 2001

Poverty called first level of violence

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati continues to turn to prayer for healing and peace in the wake of last week's racial unrest. More than 125 people gathered Wednesday night at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Hyde Park to pray for the community.

        They heard a passionate homily by the Rev. Lorentho Wooden, a retired Episcopal priest who lives downtown and is African-American. Poverty, he said, is the first level of violence, and we don't know how to relate to the poor.

        “They are not people we are comfortable with. ... As long as they are quiet, we have peace. We have told ourselves if nobody is saying anything, it must be all right.”

        But comfort, the Rev. Mr. Wooden said, is one of our biggest enemies.

        “If you ignore the fact the poor are being violated, and we're not doing anything, and they finally speak up, you've got a revolt on your hands, and that's what you had downtown,” he said.

        Eventually, he said, feelings are vented. “This is the only way it can come out for poor people without power.”

        He challenged the crowd to speak out against injustice, to connect with a troubled child or even their own children.

        “We have forgotten what (Jesus) did and who he touched and where he walked.”

        He said he and members of his family have been victims of racial profiling while driving cars, and, in the instance of one of his daughters, while riding a bicycle.

        The prayer service was organized by the Ohio River Deanery of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio after churchgoers called and asked what the deanery can do for the community.

        “We're going to do what we do best — worship and pray together about the recent events in Cincinnati,“ Gary Lubin, provost of the deanery, said before the service. “It's in God we can see the dignity and value of each human being. God is a good place to start because we all have God in common.”


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Tape: After chase, a 30-second silence
Thomas' mother shows strength in grief
Findlay Market shoppers make stand
- Poverty called first level of violence
State trooper also fired beanbag shotgun
Violence could spread elsewhere, Lawson warns
State agency to assess damage