Thursday, April 26, 2001

Most in riots were outsiders

Residents, business owners not surprised

By Kevin Aldridge and Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seven out of 10 adults arrested during rioting in Over-the-Rhine were from outside the neighborhood, according to an Enquirer analysis of arrest reports.

About those arrested
Where they are from
        On April 10 and 11, protests turned violent, with some people smashing windows and looting. Though other parts of the city were also hit, Over-the-Rhine — home to Music Hall, Findlay Market and Main Street bars and restaurants — suffered the most.

        A review of 64 adult arrest reports indicates that outsiders did the most damage. Forty-seven of those arrested in Over-the-Rhine were from communities as far away as Springfield Township and Florence.

        Only 17 of those arrested were from the neighborhood.

        “The hoodlums were from someplace else,” said Marge Hammelrath, director of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. “We've been the dumping ground for 35 years or more.”

        Prosecutor Mike Allen said Wednesday he is surprised at the findings.

        “Frankly, I do not know what to make of it,” he said.

        “I guess the word got out and people gathered and one thing led to another. ... One would think you'd be less likely to tear up your own neighborhood.”

        About 86 percent of adults arrested during rioting in Over-the-Rhine were African-American males; the rest were African-American females and white males. More than 40 percent of those arrested were between 18 and 24 years of age.

        The most common charges they face are breaking and entering, disorderly conduct, rioting and receiving stolen property.

        It is not surprising to John Delicath, an assistant professor of communications at University of Cincinnati, that Over-the-Rhine became a focal point for the unrest.

        Mr. Delicath studies social movements and civil demonstrations of all kinds. He said it is not uncommon for people to come together from different areas to partake in protests over perceived social injustices.

        The event that sparked the protests — the fatal shooting April 7 of Timothy Thomas, 19, by a Cincinnati police officer — happened in the same neighborhood that was the site for organized protests and planned activities, Mr. Delicath pointed out.

        “What drove people to come out there initially was an interest in the behavior and actions of the police and a demanding of answers,” Mr. Delicath said.

        “People wanted to come together and express their solidarity and frustrations and outrage.”

        But when peaceful protests turned violent, Mr. Delicath said, some of those outsiders got caught up in the moment.

        Shadrick Pendleton, 25, of Cleves, said he was visiting his girlfriend in Over-the-Rhine when protests began. He said he joined in the protests but did not engage in any acts of violence.

        But when police told him and a group of others to disperse from a gathering on 12th Street, he said, he was arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct. If he had to do it all over again, he said, he would have left when police told him.

        Dorothy Bradley says her son, Byron S. Gibson, 27, of North Fairmount, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        He was arrested April 10 for obstructing official business and is still in custody. An arrest report said Mr. Gibson refused to follow officers' orders and take his hands out of his pockets; he refused orders from three officers to “stop advancing on police,” the report says.

        Ms. Bradley said her son wasn't a protester, just a bystander.

        “The only reason he was in Over-the-Rhine was to visit his 2-year-old daughter, Christina. He just got caught up in the process.”

        The riots have cost the city of Cincinnati $1.5 million to $2 million in overtime and other expenses.

        And costs for those arrested also are climbing. Many have faced bonds of $10,000 and $20,000 for misdemeanor charges and more for felonies.

        Residents and business owners in Over-the-Rhine said they suspected that people from outside their community were most of those arrested in the riots.

        Dean Zaidan, owner of Mediterranean Imports in Findlay Market, said he was relieved. Rioters had broken his windows and door, leaving him with about $1,400 in repair bills.

        “I knew it had to be somebody from outside,” he said.

        “No one of the neighborhood would do something like that. This has been their main shopping area. It really hurts them the most.”

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