Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Faces of Over-the-Rhine

School social worker
Joe Wilmers

        Welcome to ground zero Cincinnati: Washington Park. Protesters and police converged and clashed at this crossroad on the edge of Over the Rhine a year ago.

        And the children of Washington Park Elementary were watching. They were home for spring break, a ready audience for the frightening television coverage.

        Joe Wilmers was watching too. He had gone to Cleveland during the school's spring break and was shocked to see the building in the background on the evening news.

        Looking back, he remembers, in the middle of all the destruction and mayhem, Washington Park Elementary wasn't touched.

        "Not one window was broken nor word of graffiti written, and I never saw anything in the media about that," he says. "With all the talk about "mob mentality' and "behaving like animals' and all the damage that was done, (the protesters) had enough control to not touch the school."

        In fact, one of the other schools in OTR were vandalized during the unrest. Mr. Wilmers believes it was because children are a special part of the neighborhood.

        "They feel safe and secure here. I had parents tell me they were glad when school reopened so the children could return to their routines."

        The children don't talk about what happened. The teachers haven't brought it up. Getting back to the business of learning is more important. And Mr. Wilmers has a lot of work still to do.

        A steady stream of mentors stop at his doorway to praise the students. His already small office is made smaller by the worn-but- working washer and dryer, available for freshening little shirts and pants, and box after box of mittens, hats and clothing donated for the children who need them.

        "I enjoy tremendously being with the children of Over the Rhine," says Mr. Wilmers. "There are more hugs and smiles and handshakes here and the people who live and work here really care about them."

        Nothing's changed at Washington Park Elementary and that's the way they want it.

-Shauna Scott Rhone

Faces of Over-the-Rhine
Restaurant owner Paul Sebring
Taft senior Darrel Shields
Social worker Angela Coleman
Sarah Center director Sister Jeanette Buehler
Jordanian grocer Taraq T.A. Adwani
Filmmaker Steve Gebhardt
Gallery owner Suzanna Terril
Beauty shop supplier Chong Kim
Teacher's aide Kemberley Alexander
Waitress Karla Davis
Teacher Sharon Brooks
Dock worker Leo Sneed
Police officer Michael Ammann
Soup kitchen manager Denise McPherson
Artist Joseph M. Winterhalter
Janitor Latrell Walker
Fund-raiser Torren "T.J." Partridge
- School social worker Joe Wilmers
Rehabber Greg Badger
Medical student John Eckman
Treatment counselor Calvin W. Wooten
Photographer Jimmy Heath

The Police
Violence up, arrests down
- Changes made since April 2001
Q&A with Police Chief Streicher
Q&A with former F.O.P. president Keith Fangman

Neighbor to Neighbor
Community meetings produce results
Going beyond polite silence
What your neighbors said
What do you think?
What's happening in 145 communities
A sampling of communities:
Mount Healthy
Pleasant Ridge
What institutions are doing

Related Links
Neighbor to Neighbor home page
Matters of Race: Bridging the divide in Greater Cincinnati
On the Same Page Cincinnati
Live Without Hate
Common Ground
Cincinnati 2001: Year of unrest
Unrest in the city: Archive of riot coverage
Unrest photo timeline
Jim Borgman on race

One Year Later
What were they thinking?
Too early to assess impact
Micheal Basnight's resolve
Violence part of life in OTR
CAN co-chair has no doubt
ACLU adds its Y-E-S to deal

Restaurant owner
Taft senior
Social worker
Sarah Center director
Jordanian grocer
Gallery owner
Beauty shop supplier
Teacher's aide
Dock worker
Police officer
Soup kitchen manager
School social worker
Medical student
Treatment counselor

Violence up, arrests down
Changes since April 2001
Q&A with Streicher
Q&A with Keith Fangman

Meetings produce results
Beyond polite silence
What your neighbors said
What do you think?
In your community
Mount Healthy
Pleasant Ridge
What institutions are doing

Neighbor to Neighbor
Matters of Race
On the Same Page
Live Without Hate
Common Ground
Year of unrest
Riot news archive
Unrest photos
Jim Borgman on race