Sunday, March 17, 2002

Sharpton backs boycott in city

Says nation's watching on police brutality issue

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The nation is watching Cincinnati's next move.

        That's the opinion of the Rev. Al Sharpton, a New York civil rights figure who was in town Saturday to attend a celebration of the Rev. H.L. Harvey's 25 years at New Friendship Baptist church in Avondale.

        The minister said the country is watching Cincinnati to see how it deals with — or decides not to deal with — the issue of police brutality.

        He said the struggle against police brutality in Cincinnati mirrors the struggle in New York.

        “The eyes of the nation are on Cincinnati,” the Rev. Sharpton said before he spoke to a crowd of 300 at a banquet for the Rev. Harvey.

        “Given the number of cases of black men getting shot by police in Cincinnati over the years, police brutality is a concern.”

        Rev. Sharpton was referring to the April 7 fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas by Cincinnati Police Officer Stephen Roach and the riots it triggered.

        Mr. Thomas was the 15th black man killed in encounters with Cincinnati officers since 1995, though many of those killed were armed.

        Rev. Sharpton said he supports actions of the Black United Front and the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, the groups organizing the boycott of downtown businesses.

        Rev. Sharpton said he talks to the Rev. Damon Lynch III, president of the Black United Front, on a regular basis. He said he has been monitoring the city's progress since he visited here last April at the time of the unrest.

        “I'm supporting the boycott. I support any effort against police brutality,” Rev. Sharpton said. “Police brutality is a national issue and those of us who come here often, as I do, have an obligation not to violate the efforts of those who are fighting for justice in that area.”

        Rev. Sharpton said while he supports the boycott, he denounces the notion of African-American leaders attacking one another because of disagreements on the issue.

        Rev. Sharpton was scheduled to march with the Rev. Mr. Lynch and boycotters through Over-the-Rhine Saturday night.

        He will speak today at Allen Temple AME Church, 7030 Reading Road, Bond Hill.

Related stories:
Baptists cancel Cincinnati gathering
Boycott coalition sues arts group
Civil rights leaders show support for boycott

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