Sunday, June 17, 2001

Rally attendance was low, but spirits remained high

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As she stood with about 150 other participants in Saturday's rally against black-on-black crime, Marti Otten, a 50-year-old white woman, was undeterred.

        “It's very significant, no matter how many people are here,” the Groesbeck woman said of the smaller than anticipated crowd.

        Ms. Otten said each person should realize “the personal is political.” She's confident that such events raise awareness and eventually have an effect.

        As many as 1,000 were expected to gather at Swifton Commons Mall in Bond Hill and march to Roselawn Park for a rally — the latest in a series of rallies since April 7, when Cincinnati Police Officer Stephen Roach fatally shot Timothy Thomas, 19, who was unarmed. “Black-on-black crime is a much bigger problem (than the Thomas shooting),” said Rapheal Adams, 38, of Hartwell. He blames it on “a small segment of the community that has embraced violent behavior.”

        Organizer Sam Malone, 30, a Bond Hill man running for city council, said he was impressed by the types of people who showed up, if not the number.

        “I'm very glad to see people out here from all different parts of the city, different ages, different races — a good cross-section,” he said.

        Stanley Wells, 16, president of the Student Task Force of Avondale, was one of those marching.

        “We want to empower youth, to get them active in the community, to have their voice known,” he said.

        Programs that give youths more opportunities help them feel less frustrated and angry — and that can stop them from becoming violent, he said.

        Keith Fangman, Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police president, said officers cannot control violence without the community's help.

        “We've seen a level of violence the past six weeks unlike anything this city has ever experienced,” he said. There have been 45 black-on-black shootings since April 11.

        “How are people going to feel safe in their city if cops are afraid to do their jobs and go after the violent offenders?” he said. “We can't do the job alone. Please help us.”

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church and leader of the Black United Front, said that Saturday's rally was a “safe” cause for Mr. Fangman and political candidates to support.

        “They have yet to stand up with us on issues against police brutality,” he said.

Man shot as rally decried violence

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