Friday, July 20, 2001

Events bring out boycott backers

Group plans march, leaflet campaign

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Boycott Cincinnati, a coalition of clergy and community activists, will target the Coors Light Music Festival and Ujima Cinci-Bration today with what they call “educational demonstrations.”

        Demonstrators plan to march through downtown streets, handing out leaflets in a continuation of protests spurred by the April riots.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church and head of Black United Front, said Thursday that several commissions and task forces have been formed but there has been no systemic change. He said it is important, particularly for African-Americans, to keep agitating for change until city leaders respond.

        “There are too many cowards in this city, black and white,” the Rev. Mr. Lynch said. “If you don't keep the pressure on, nothing will change. You've got people bringing their money downtown and spending it while getting kicked in the butt at the same time.”

        But event organizers say they don't expect the demonstrations to derail the pair of three-day festivals, which offer jazz and R&B music and family activities.

        The Ujima street festival begins at 11:30 a.m today on Fountain Square. Vendors will set up from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. along Fifth Street, between Race and Sentinel streets.

        The festival will feature performances by nationally known stand-up comic George Wallace, a 3-on-3 basketball contest, a car show and bid whist tournament.

        The Coors Light concerts will begin at Cinergy Field after 6 p.m. today. Aretha Franklin, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Chante Moore and Will Downing are among the artists set to perform this weekend.

        Eight downtown restaurants have formed an informal alliance to roll out the welcome mat this weekend for Ujima and Coors Light festival-goers.

        Nicholson's Tavern & Pub, Jeff Ruby's, Pizzeria Uno, Trattoria Roma, Palmino Euro Bistro, La Normandie, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and Havana Martini Club agreed to a collective open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Festival fans will be treated to free appetizers, Nicholson's spokeswoman Melinda Kruyer said.

        Many of the downtown restaurants participating in the open house were criticized last year for closing early or not opening at all during the jointly held three-day festivals, which attract predominantly black crowds.

        De Asa Nichols, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce, called the open house a “welcome gesture.”

        Ms. Kruyer said the restaurants have agreed to donate 2 percent of their sales over the weekend to a fund for school supplies for Cincinnati Public Schools students.


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