Friday, March 7, 2003

Churches target Cincinnati in campaign to help blacks

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Poverty, homeownership and unemployment rates among African-Americans in Cincinnati will be used to illustrate why economic opportunities for blacks need to be improved nationwide, a group of national religious and civil rights leaders said Thursday.

National church leaders convened for a "by invitation only" meeting with the Cincinnati Black United Front and other local groups at Zion Baptist Church in Avondale to discuss "economic apartheid," police brutality, community revitalization and the boycott.

Church leaders called for a national campaign to promote social justice and economic programs to help black people. They also said they would urge their congregations to support the city's 19-month-old boycott and indicated they may "turn up the heat" by calling for a national boycott of corporations based in Cincinnati.

In addition, the three boycott groups - BUF, Coalition for a Just Cincinnati and Concerned Citizens for Justice - issued a consolidated list of demands that included a call for a federal investigation of the city and county prosecutor's office and a city council resolution seeking federal prosecution of officers "who have killed unarmed African-American citizens."

"Cincinnati is the Birmingham of 2003," said the Rev. Damon Lynch III, president of the Cincinnati Black United Front. "It has become the center for the 21st Century civil rights movement."

Among the groups that attended the summit were the NAACP, Progressive National Baptist Convention, United Church of Christ and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, which has 140,000 congregations nationwide.

"The pain of Cincinnati has brought us together. The possibilities of resolution have brought us together," said the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., chairman of the civil rights commission for the Progressive Baptists, which canceled a convention last year in Cincinnati because of the boycott.

Lynch said black ministers from Cincinnati want to launch a "Freedom Summer" project April 4 - the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination - that would bring African-Americans together so they can discuss areas in which blacks should press for greater opportunity.

The boycott groups also unveiled a three-page, consolidated list of demands that covered economic, political, health, education and criminal justice issues. Gone from the list of demands was the call for Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher's resignation. But other demands remained, such as those for $208 million in city funds for the Empowerment Zone and the settlement of lawsuits of families whose children died in altercations with police.

Newer demands included establishment of a community development bank that would provide funding and investment capital to support revitalization for poor, deteriorated neighborhoods. They also are asking for a task force to investigate the "outside forces" conducting large-scale gun and drug trafficking in black neighborhoods.

Councilman David Pepper called it unfair to target Cincinnati-based corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Federated Department Stores Inc., that have "gone out of their way" to contribute to job and educational initiatives designed to improve the lives of African-Americans. Pepper tried to get into the meeting to explain to national leaders what actions city officials are taking toward progress, but boycott organizers turned him away at the door.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Pull-tab lottery tied to terror
Robotic surgery comes to TriHealth
Test-driving the da Vinci device
Tarbell floats idea of tax on water taxi
Convict given 'vacation' from jail

Grand jury hears Deters testimony in theft case
Fights, taunts led up to shooting
Bullying among 4 factors for youth violence, expert says
Churches target Cincinnati in campaign to help blacks
County report looks at trends, points to problems needing fix
Edward Dinerman, 94, longtime advertising exec
Catherine 'Kit' Nicholas oversaw labs at hospitals
Tristate A.M. Report

BRONSON: Blame game
HOWARD: Some Good News

Green Beer Day somewhat flat; fewer revelers
Shed giant sign, county tells Hustler
Deal struck for Metro routes
Clermont adopts clean water plan
Admirers help out a champ
Realtors protest Butler tax plan

State's school districts told to brace for even deeper cuts
No clemency advised for man on Ohio death row
Panelists disagree on how to select Ohio's judiciary
Ohio Moments

Industrial Road to gain girth
N.Ky. shelter to close for the season
Kentucky obituaries
Ky. trucker killed when 3 semis collide
Doctor accused of pushing painkillers
Ten Commandments challenge awaits ruling
Epling-inspired bill gets House OK
Attorney: Confessed killer's testimony wasn't perjury
KET names Oklahoma TV executive new CEO
Off the Beam, on your Mark
Martha Comer led Maysville paper