Sunday, February 10, 2002

Rights pioneer seeks change

More training needed for police for city to grow, he says

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Dramatic change must occur at the Cincinnati Police Department if the city is to heal racially and thrive economically, a civil rights pioneer said Saturday.

        The Rev. C.T. Vivian appeared at Xavier University's Cintas Center for a fund-raiser for the Amos Project, a coalition more than 3 years old of area churches concerned with racial and social issues.

[photo] Rev. C.T. Vivian (left) greets the Rev. Clarence Wallace of Carmel Presbyterian Church (middle) and Raymond Lane Jr. of Walnut Hills before a fund-raiser on Saturday for the Amos Project.
(Enquirer photo)
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        “If I didn't know what a good organization this is — serious about finding a cure — I wouldn't be here,” he said before the event.

        The Rev. Mr. Vivian participated in his first sit-ins in Illinois in 1947, and he later marched in the South with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cincinnati's Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

        Today, the Rev. Mr. Vivian is a national expert on civil rights and nonviolent protest. The cure for Cincinnati's racial problems, he said, is better training for police officers.

        “That training has to be done by someone who's serious about solving the problem,” he said. “And that has to be a minority.”

        He also advocated recruiting beyond Cincinnati for jobs in the police department.

        “You're dealing with the second and third generation of the same stuff,” the Rev. Mr. Vivian said.

        Businesses won't want to come here if the police department doesn't change, he said.

        The Rev. Mr. Vivian's visit coincides with Black History Month and as Cincinnati nears the first anniversary of riots over a police officer's fatal shooting of a black man.

        Comedian Bill Cosby, prompted by some activists' continued calls for a boycott of Cincinnati, last week canceled shows scheduled March 15 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.

        The Rev. Mr. Vivian, however, kept his date in Cincinnati.

        “Supporting the Amos Project is supporting the people's work,” he said, particularly commending its broad-based membership.

        The group is a coalition of 31 Greater Cincinnati congregations — black and white, urban and suburban. Its causes include racial division, poverty and education.

        The Amos Project has seen progress in education, thanks in part to Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Steven Adamowski, said Amos spokeswoman Ronda Deel.

        Mr. Adamowski was honored Saturday with the group's first Partner in Justice Award. The Rev. Mr. Shuttlesworth also was honored, with the Nehemiah Award. Saturday's event was a sellout, drawing 540 people and raising an estimated $30,000, Ms. Deel said.

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