Friday, September 28, 2001

Unrest, terror put citizens on edge




By Karen Samples
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rose Day isn't sure she can stay in Cincinnati. She loves the city, but the last eight months have pushed her to the brink.

        “I feel like giving up. I feel like moving, and I know that's wrong, but I'm just tired of it,” she says.

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        First came the civil unrest in April, which created safety concerns for Ms. Day and her colleagues downtown. Then the terrorists attacked the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Now there's more racial tension, with Police Officer Stephen Roach's acquittal Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a black man who was fleeing police.

        Across the city Thursday, people expressed various emotions — frustration, weariness, even a certain optimism.

        Ms. Day is especially on edge because of personal connections to the terrorism crisis. Her daughter watched the trade towers collapse from her apartment in Brooklyn. Now she's depressed and hurting, while her mother, an AT&T manager in Cincinnati, works long hours to help restore phone service in New York.

        “There are enough problems that people are worrying about now — war, people they know in their families or their neighbors' families who might be involved in war,” Ms. Day says.

        But for some African-Americans in Cincinnati, the patriotism stirred by the attacks is bittersweet. Black Americans have always fought proudly for the United States, which makes the perceived injustices at home all the more frustrating, said Greg Clayton, chairman of the board of a gospel radio station in Greater Cincinnati.

        “With all that's happened in New York and D.C., with people trying to bring out patriotism and unify people — and then you get slapped in the face with this,” said Mr. Clayton, referring to the Roach verdict.

        “It's like we're being used,” he said. “When you need all hands on deck to fight terrorism, then we're Americans.”

        Others living near the epicenter of this spring's unrest are simply tired of the upheaval.

        Rosella Franklin, 81, worries not only about riots and terrorists but about her general safety in the West End.

        “I've just learned to keep to myself more,” she says. “I go to work and come straight back. I go to church and come straight back.”

        “I just wish they'd stop, stop the riots,” said Katherine Thomas of Over-the-Rhine. “It isn't going anywhere.”

        Despite her sense that enough is enough, she's determined not to let the city's troubles change her life. She still works two jobs and enjoys her shopping trips downtown.

        “Downtown is still the hub,” said Rich Dineen of Madeira, who was there for several meetings Thursday.

        He called the Roach trial “a dose of reality” for residents transfixed by the terrorism story. “We can't just go into hiding and forget about all the local issues we have to deal with,” he said.

        At the same time, he's optimistic about the future of Cincinnati, which he called a “tremendous city.”

        “It's convenient to get around, it's relatively safe compared to most. And, gosh, we have our issues, but we can deal with those,” he said.

       



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