Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Black groups may call for city boycott




By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Black activists and religious leaders said Monday they may call for expanded economic pressure on downtown because of what they consider the city's lack of progress on racial issues since the April riots.

        The Rev. James W. Jones, first vice president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati and Vicinity and chairman of the Coalition for Justice and Equality, said the coalition and other groups could call for a international boycott of Cincinnati as soon as Wednesday.

        Tourists would be encouraged not to visit Cincinnati, organizations would be asked to hold their conventions elsewhere and residents would be urged not to spend money downtown at businesses and events, the Rev. Mr. Jones said.

        “The message we would hope to send ... would be that if there is no economic justice, no war waged on economic apartheid in our city, then there will be no peace,” said the Rev. Mr. Jones, pastor of the Greater New Mount Moriah Mission ary Baptist Church in Carthage.

        According to the coalition, it has discussed sanctions with numerous organizations, both in Cincinnati and out of town. Several said they may make a decision within the week on whether to join in a call for a boycott, among them the Baptist Ministers Conference and the Group of Concerned Clergy.

        The Rev. Clarence Wallace, pastor of Carmel Presbyterian Church in Avondale and a member of the concerned clergy group, said it is weighing whether to support such a call.

        “There is a growing sense of frustration in the African- American community that we haven't seen any tangible evidence of action from city officials or Cincinnati CAN on issues of race,” the Rev. Mr. Wallace said. “Here it is July, and what have we seen?”

        Cincinnati Community Action Now is the organization formed by Mayor Charlie Luken after the riots that followed the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. Cincinnati CAN was created with the goal of spearheading efforts on improving racial disparities in areas such as education, economic advancement and police relations.

        It is unclear whether the most visible protest organization — the Cincinnati Black United Front — would participate.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, its leader, said Monday his group had not decided. In the meantime, Juleana Frierson, chief of staff, said, the group will continue its protests and boycotts.

        If black consumers wield their influence, economic boycotts can be a powerful tool, said Ken Smikle, editor and publisher of Target Market News, a trade publication that tracks trends in black consumer marketing.

        Last year, black households in Cincinnati spent more than $1.5 billion on items from candy bars to tropical vacations, he said. Nationally, African-Americans spent an estimated $543 billion.

        “The idea is not to hurt some company in the pocketbook, because you can't do that. You won't do that,” Mr. Smikle said.

        “You use the subject of money to call attention to an unjust situation because money seems to be the only thing to get the media's attention and boycotts seem to be the only way to galvanize people with a legal way to protest.”

       



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