Friday, May 11, 2001

FBI investigating hate crimes

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The FBI launched a hate-crimes investigation Thursday into attacks on whites who were targeted during riots last month in Cincinnati.

        FBI spokesman Ed Boldt confirmed agents have opened an investigation into three incidents, but he would not discuss the race of the suspects or the victims.

        But Prosecutor Mike Allen and City Councilwoman Minette Cooper said FBI officials have told them the investigation focuses on white motorists who claim they were attacked because of their skin color.

        “I think that if we have laws like this, they have to be used equally,” Ms. Cooper said. “Everybody is entitled to protection.”

        On several occasions during the unrest, white motorists complained that rioters threw rocks and bottles at their cars and, in a few cases, pulled them from their cars and beat them.

        One victim was an African-American woman who is albino. She was struck in the head with a brick and her car was battered with rocks as she drove through Avondale.

        Mr. Allen said his office will cooperate with the FBI and could file assault charges of its own if the investigation leads to the attackers.

        The FBI already is gathering evidence for a civil rights investigation into the death of Timothy Thomas, the unarmed black man killed by a police officer April 7, sparking the riots. It also is investigating Cincinnati officers accused of firing non-lethal weapons on a peaceful crowd following Mr. Thomas' funeral April 14.


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