Sunday, April 22, 2001

The riots

Tell me about it

        I missed the riots. Biggest story in Cincinnati history, they said, and I was on vacation.

        But I've heard plenty.

        • I heard Mayor Charlie Luken say on Monday, “I'm completely convinced we're going to be a better city.”

        What else can a mayor say after days without sleep, listening to police radios doing a play-by-play of a city imploding? I hope he's right in the long run.

        But for now, I don't think we're a better city. For now, it looks like we've become a lot worse. Scared. Angry. Divided. Discouraged. And deep-down certain there's nothing we can do to prevent an instant replay.

        • I heard that a mob mentality seized the city. There's a herd mentality, too. Some folks are enjoying this. They think it ratifies their 1960s world view: White people are guilty. Blacks are victims. Cincinnati is racist. Cops are bad guys. The looters and protesters are right. And anyone who dares to object should sit down and shut up.

        • I heard that the Rev. Damon Lynch III incited the riots along with council member Alicia Reece, lawyer Ken Lawson and some rhetorical arsonists on talk radio.

        But then I heard that these same people who played with matches and started the fire are now “peacemakers” for calling 911 to put it out. Amazing.

        • I heard a woman at the special council meeting on Tuesday. She called our elected leaders murderers, slave masters, official criminals of South Africa, Gestapo and KKK in disguise. Then, without a blush, she said, “If you look for the good in others you might see the good in yourself.”

        Unbelievable. Unless you have watched council meetings turned into bizarre circuses for more than a year by race-hustlers who spout vicious anti-Semitism and toxic racism. Some people warned it could get out of control. Council members said “no big deal” and did nothing.

        • I heard about poverty. But I saw a poverty of education. A lost generation — the 70 percent who drop out of urban schools — is raging incoherently about their lack of opportunity and they blame the rest of us. Maybe they're right.

        • I heard a lot about the black victims of police beanbags, but nothing about the white victims beaten during the riots.

        • I heard about the “new Black Panthers,” but they sound just like the old hate group that is no better than the Klan.

        • I heard we should stop pointing fingers and move on. Tell it to former Safety Director Kent Ryan, who was fired to appease the mob as he was literally heartsick with chest pains.

        • I heard that the shooting that started it all was a “murder,” but it doesn't sound that way to me. It sounds like a scared cop made a mistake.

        • I heard demands for “justice” — followed by threats that unless Officer Steve Roach is indicted, the riots will resume.

        This doesn't sound like a better city to me.

        A better city would say loud and clear that accountability is a two-way street, not a one-way, dead-end that stops at police headquarters.

        A better city would thank all the good cops who laid their lives on the pencil-thin line between peace and mob violence. I didn't hear much of that.

        On Thursday, I heard astronaut Charlie Duke tell 900 people at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast what it was like to walk on the moon and look across space at the blue jewel of the Earth suspended in black velvet space. From that God's-eye view, the brotherhood of mankind is startlingly obvious, he said.

        The Bible puts it another way: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” — 1 John, 2:9

        Contact Enquirer Associate Editor Peter Bronson at 768-8301; fax: 768-8610; e-mail: Cincinnati.Com keyword: Bronson.


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