Monday, January 14, 2002

Lynch continues work with CAN, without pay

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Though Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken fired the Rev. Damon Lynch III from the city's race relations panel, the Over-the-Rhine pastor is still helping as an unpaid consultant.

        The Rev. Mr. Lynch, one of three co-chairs of Cincinnati Community Action Now, was fired Dec. 3.

        The firing came via a 15-word letter from Mr. Luken delivered to the Rev. Mr. Lynch while he was presid ing over a morning CAN meeting. Mr. Luken has yet to name a successor.

        “You are hereby dismissed from further involvement of any kind with Cincinnati Community Action Panel,” the letter reads.

        The Rev. Mr. Lynch, president of the Cincinnati Black United Front, was fired for signing a letter on the activist group's letterhead that called Cincinnati police officers rapists and murderers. The firing wasn't a surprise — Mr. Luken had become increasingly critical of the minister in past months.

        The Rev. Mr. Lynch's undated letter was mailed to an unknown number of people and groups holding or considering conventions in Cincinnati.

        But later that day, CAN co-chair Ross Love called the Rev. Mr. Lynch and privately asked him to continue as an unpaid consultant on CAN's police and justice team, the pastor said Sunday.

        And CAN's two-page ad vertisement Sunday in the Enquirer says the Rev. Mr. Lynch will work with Police Chief Tom Streicher and another CAN volunteer to “execute a "Cincinnati Plan' to build positive and productive relationships between citizens and police officers.”

        The mayor did not return phone calls Sunday for comment.

        But the Rev. Mr. Lynch said he feels “used” by the process, and wonders why Mr. Love and the other CAN co-chair, Tom Cody, didn't stand up to Mr. Luken to prevent the firing.

        “I was publicly fired and privately asked to help,” he said. “That's Cincinnati for you. I was put on CAN to lend a voice that too often is left off of these type of commissions. Obviously it was a voice they couldn't handle, which is part of the problem in our city.

        “But I carried on with the work because the issue of police and community relations is more important than the position on CAN.”


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