Sunday, December 30, 2001

Cincinnati: 2001 Year of Unrest

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Looking back, there were warning signs.

        Citizens complained about police officers, protesters hollered and hauled signs at City Hall, community leaders demanded change.

        But no one fully understood the danger of Cincinnati's deep racial divisions until a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in April.

        African-Americans were outraged. Within days, the anger and frustration that had been building for years spilled into the streets. Rioters broke windows, looted stores, burned trash bins and threw bricks at passing motorists. A city once known as a good place to live and raise kids was embarrassed and stunned.

        When the violence ended, Cincinnati took its first tentative steps toward change. The mayor formed a commission to study race relations. The Department of Justice investigated the police division. A mediator tried to resolve a dispute over racial profiling.

        But at year's end, the old warning signs remain. There still is concern about the resentment and entrenched passions that led to the violence.

        There still is fear it could happen again.

- Cincinnati 2001: Year of Unrest
Prologue to turmoil: "A very tense time"
The trigger: Shooting 'ignites furious response'
The riots explode: A city's dark week
Summer of blood - guns rule the streets
Tests of justice: Officers acquitted
Binding wounds: What can be done?
What comes next?: Good examples few
WARD BUSHEE: A chance to talk honestly ... and to act
2001: A timeline
Unrest photo timeline
Jim Borgman on race

Trouble ahead

    Even before April's riots, community leaders ranked poor race relations as a top problem. Some of their comments, after a four-hour meeting held by the Enquirer in February, were startlingly prophetic:

    "I see Cincinnati as being in denial that there is a race problem... The African-American community doesn't feel the police are protecting or serving it at all."
... Clifford A. Bailey, chairman of Downtown Cincinnati Inc.

    "There's a potential for violence. I hate to raise that issue, but I think there is."
... Karla Irvine, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal

    "The racial issue has been central to virtually every major social problem that this community faces."
... Nathaniel Jones, federal judge, U.S. Court of Appeals

    "Everyone can hide in their own enclaves for a while, but you cannot maintain a healthy society in those conditions."
... Steven Adamowski, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools

    "It's going to take an extraordinary intervention by a large group of leaders representing every facet of the community ... particularly business, the media and government ... to prevent race relations from becoming a day-to-day crisis."
... Ross Love, president at CEO of Blue Chip Broadcasting

    "Everyone has to approach (race) with an open mind. Are some feathers going to get ruffled? Sure, but we've got to do it. Why don't we all just acknowledge that we have some faults and get started on doing what we can to make things better?"
... Police Chief Tom Streicher

    "White people and city leaders need to step up, because until that happens it's too easy to see it as a black concern or a concern only of people of color."
... Cheryl Nunez, affirmative action director, Northern Kentucky University "Many whites are suffering from race fatigue or denial: 'Let's just stop talking about it, and things might get better.' It won't happen."
... Linda Bates Parker, director of Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati "It would be a terrible irony to have the Freedom Center in a city that isn't moving forward."
... John Pepper, chairman of Procter & Gamble Co.

    "If we don't address (race relations), deal with it, it can polarize our community and drive us further apart."
... U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, Terrace Park

    "The future of this city depends more on our ability to treat one another fairly than on any single economic issue, and I think we have a long way to go."
... Mayor Charlie Luken

Source: The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 4, ""Divided by Race" report