Thursday, September 27, 2001

Curfew to remain through Friday

Luken says he wants to send 'clear signal'

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnatians awake this morning to their city under another nighttime curfew and a state of emergency.

        Mayor Charlie Luken instituted the curfew at about 12:15 a.m. after being advised by Police Chief Tom Streicher about several Over-the-Rhine incidents he said put citizens and police officers at risk of being hurt.

[photo] Police Chief Tom Streicher listens as Mayor Charlie Luken announces the curfew in a 1 a.m. press conference held in his office Thursday.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The curfew stays in effect until 6 a.m. today and resumes from 10 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. Friday. Officers have been told to first warn anyone caught out during those times, but to arrest anyone they catch a second time.

        The activity came in response to Wednesday's not-guilty verdicts for Officer Stephen Roach, who was charged in the April 7 fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas. The 19-year-old unarmed man ran from officers and was shot in a dark alley behind Republic Street.

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        “While there's anger over a verdict today, there's no excuse for criminal behavior,” Mayor Luken said. “We must send a clear signal as to who is in charge.”

        The state of emergency also allowed him to take direct control of the police and fire departments. He did not find that necessary during the April riots, but did so today.

        “The people elected me to be accountable for what happens,” he said.

        The violence had waned somewhat by the time officials were assembled and the curfew announced. But several hours earlier, extra officers were called in to District 1 and officers started wearing their riot helmets.

        They dealt with arsons throughout Over-the-Rhine, most of them burning trash cans or pieces of furniture. Officers, reporters and other citizens were hit with rocks and bottles and their cars were damaged. In one situation, officers had to chase a hit-and-run driver into a crowd of people, whom Mr. Luken said then turned on the officers, forcing them to call for help.

        “This is designed to protect citizens and police from lawless activity,” Mayor Luken said. “I apologize to law-abiding citizens of Cincinnati who are inconvenienced.”

        He also said “questions have to be asked” about the Rev. Damon Lynch III's organization of a church service and subsequent vigil at the site of Mr. Thomas' death. Chief Streicher said some attendees broke off into smaller groups and began walking through the neighborhood setting fires and breaking windows.

        “I think he's been helpful at times and less than helpful at times,” the mayor said of the Rev. Lynch. “Questions have to be asked about responsibility.” Police spokesman Lt. Kurt Byrd said as of 1:45 a.m., there were no early reports of any curfew violations.

        William A. Weathers contributed to this story.


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