Sunday, June 30, 2002

Plane tows boycott banner

        At an event aimed to promote unity among blacks and whites, Cincinnati's continued racial division was evident Saturday at the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Billy Graham Mission.

Plane flies boycott banner over Paul Brown Stadium Saturday.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        As the Rev. Mr. Graham called on the crowd to join him in prayer, a plane out of Lunken Airport flew over the stadium 10 times pulling a banner that read: “Boycott Cincinnati.

        “My sense is it did not create any form of distraction,” said Rick Segal, a mission spokesman.

        However, Victoria Parks, an African-American woman from College Hill who attended the mission on Saturday, did notice: “I think it is appropriate. I will not be spending any money downtown. Any thinking Christian won't either.”

        But she praised the diversity of Saturday night's crowd, and said the mission is what Cincinnati needs. “Nothing is going to change in this city until hearts change,” she said.

        The plane's flight along the riverfront began during the Christian pop group DC Talk's performance and lasted about 30 minutes. Some in the crowd pointed at it, but the fly-over did not stir the crowd.

        Some groups have called for entertainers and convention planners to boycott Cincinnati until the city deals with its racial problems. The boycott came after three days of race riots in April 2001.

        Lunken Airport Manager Dan Dickten said the pilot was not in violation of no-fly zones.

        “The airport and City of Cincinnati had nothing to do with the banner being towed,” he said. “We have private tenants and businesses here at the field that pay us rent. They have a right to use the airport for aviation purposes. We had no knowledge this banner was going to be flown, and we have no control over such things as that.”

        The municipal airport had received several complaints about the banner.


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