Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Faces of Over-the-Rhine

Jimmy Heath walks up a stairway in Over-The-Rhine looking for flowers for a photo project. (Photo by Brandi Stafford)
Jimmy Heath

        Jimmy Heath can't decide the best way to display the photos of the riots that shook Cincinnati a year ago.4/01

        In one photo, a squad of riot police march past a lone pedestrian on a downtown street. In another, an angry man, fist raised, confronts a line of police officers.

        Other images adorn Mr. Heath's 14th Street studio: Flowers growing in an alleyway, a portrait of a homeless man, children playing in front of abandoned buildings.

        "There are a thousand pictures on every corner," Mr. Heath, 47, says. Once homeless himself, he's now a professional photographer and neighborhood activist. He runs the Center for Community Photography at the Peaslee Neighborhood Center. He's lived in Over-the-Rhine since 1995, when he found his way to the Drop Inn Center. "I haven't been able to leave," he says.

        The neighborhood has changed since last year's riots, Mr. Heath says, and not in a good way.

        "People are angrier and some of those feelings I think are a direct result of the actions of city leadership," he says. He points to the acquittal of Officer Steven Roach, the Rev. Damon Lynch III's ouster from CAN after he called Cincinnati police "murderers and rapists," the controversy over ReSTOC developments and holdings in the neighborhood and Mayor Charlie Luken labeling boycott leaders "terrorists." All of those add up to attacks to Over-the-Rhine's African American residents, he says, and city leaders "missed a real opportunity" to mend fences in the first few months after the riot.

        "Look at Over-the-Rhine now. We've got more violence. We've got businesses moving out because they're afraid. We've got people feeling disenfranchised and angry," he says.

        Even with more police on the streets, the drug dealers near his Republic Street home are active every day, he says: They're out when he leaves for work in the morning, and they're out when he comes home at night. "They're out there with impunity. What does that say to a community? It says, "We don't care about you.' "

        More than anything, Mr. Heath wants to see Over-the-Rhines schools fixed up and equipped with computers and books and supplies to give students the education they need.

        "You get the kids and you break the cycle," he says. "The kids are everything. Give the kids what they need."

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