Monday, April 30, 2001

Potluck aims at unity, healing




By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hundreds of people gathered on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine Sunday afternoon.

        But this diverse crowd — young and old, black and white — was eating, socializing, listening to music and interacting peacefully with police officers on a beautiful sunny day.

        It was a sharp contrast to the violence and vandalism that swept through the area three weeks ago after the fatal shooting in Over-the-Rhine of an unarmed African-American man by a police officer.

        The Over-the-Rhine Neighborhood Potluck celebration, held from 4-7 p.m. on Main between 13th and 14th streets, was designed to help heal the neighborhood scarred by that violence, said Marge Hammelrath, executive director of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation.

        “It wasn't just the businesses” that suffered, Ms. Hammelrath said. “The residents were terribly frightened about what happened.”

        Neighbors brought potluck dishes and businesses in and outside the historic area donated food and beverages. At times, nearly 100 people stood in the lines waiting to be served.

        Children got to talk to police officers, pet their horses and sit on their motorcycles.

        “I think this is real nice what they did for the neighborhood,” said Jackie Fleming, 32, of Price Hill, who brought three of her children to the block party in the neighborhood where her mother resides. “I think they'll (patrons of Main Street business) probably come back if they do more stuff like this more often.”

        Roshawna Wright, 25, a lifelong Over-the-Rhine resident, brought her daughter, Krisse'ya, 4.

        “She's having a good time,” but it takes more than food to prevent a recurrence of the violence, Ms. Wright said.

       



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