Monday, December 8, 2003

Activists travel to city to lead anti-police rally

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

About 30 people rallied downtown Sunday with some New Black Panther leaders calling for the Cincinnati police chief to be fired and the officers involved to be prosecuted in the death of Nathaniel Jones.

Hashimnz Nzinga, national chief of staff with The New Black Panthers speaks to protesters. Center left is Malik Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black Panthers.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
Malik Shabazz, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who is national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, stood outside police headquarters in the West End and called officers "no-good" racists.

"How is it," he asked, "that white America sees this so differently than black America? Nathaniel Jones did not have even so much as a pen knife."

The New Black Panther party is a controversial "next-generation" offshoot of the civil rights activist Black Panthers created in 1966.

Jones, 41, of Northside, died Nov. 30 after a three-minute struggle with six officers in the parking lot of a White Castle restaurant on West Mitchell Avenue in North Avondale. The coroner ruled the death a homicide brought on by the stress of the struggle but said that does not mean the officers used excessive force and does not imply wrongdoing. He said drug use as well as Jones' enlarged, hypertensive heart and his obesity - he weighed 342 - contributed to his death. Officials say Jones used cocaine, PCP and methanol within hours of his death.

Sunday, Fred Hampton Jr., namesake son of the Chicago Black Panther leader shot to death in 1969 by Chicago police officers, joined marchers. He said the party views Nov. 30, the day Jones died, as a "day of terrorism."

The six officers involved were put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Chief Tom Streicher has supported the officers, saying the investigation is continuing but he did not see anything wrong with their actions, based on the video.

The Rev. Damon Lynch III, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine, repeated calls for Streicher to be fired.

"We're one of the few cities,"' Lynch said, "that have gone through unrest and kept everyone in power."

The chief, in his 33rd year on the force and his fifth as chief, has said he has no intention of leaving.

Earlier, at his church, Lynch led a packed congregation in prayer for the Jones family.

"We pray, God, for the family of Nathaniel Jones, that you might bring them comfort," he said. "We pray for this city, that you may bring it peace."


Janice Morse contributed.


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