Sunday, December 30, 2001
Summer of blood: Guns rule the streets
As police back away, criminals get bold and killings become
common. A wounded child breaks the stalemate, and a mother's plea for
peace is respected...
By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The young man pulled a pistol from his waistband and walked
slowly across Dryden Avenue.
He was headed toward a wrecked Honda CRV, which he had just chased
across town in his Ford Escort. The Honda was on its side in
someone's front yard.
Neighbors stood on their doorsteps or sidewalks, watching. Moments
before, they had been watering their lawns, walking their dogs.
It was a beautiful July evening in Pleasant Ridge.
The man, who police say was 23-year-old Montez ""E Money'' Taylor,
leaned into the Honda, pointed his gun at the two men trapped inside
and shot them both to death. Then the man jogged back to his car and
The shooting was one of the most brazen acts of violence in a
summer when violence became routine. There were 23 homicides in
Cincinnati this summer, 61 for the year so far. In all of 2000, there
After the riots, the city had in some ways ceased to function as a
community. Blacks remained suspicious of police. Police, embittered
by criticism, responded with a work slowdown. Except for emergency
runs, they basically withdrew from several urban neighborhoods.
Criminals quickly filled the void. Street corners and sidewalks
became battlegrounds, sometimes in broad daylight, as drug dealers
and thugs fought turf wars.
Map and number of shootings in each neighborhhod since April 13, 2001
| ZOOM |
At times, it seemed the violence might tear the city apart, just
as the riots had done months earlier.
Some citizens criticized police for seeming to allow a situation
where blacks were killing blacks. Others wondered why the
African-American clergy, so quick to denounce the police, weren't
doing more to stem violence in black neighborhoods.
The violence peaked on July 24 with the shooting in Pleasant
Ridge, a normally quiet, middle-class neighborhood. The next day, as
one of her neighbors hosed the dead men's blood off her sidewalk,
Judy Hardin worried about the future of her city.
"It makes me feel really sad that this is what our city is coming
to," she said. "I just don't understand."
In some neighborhoods, the violence was relentless. Over-the-Rhine
residents heard gunfire almost daily. Drug deals were made in full
view of passersby.
Jerry Dubose, who runs the Lord's Gym at Walnut and Liberty
streets, was walking down Vine Street one day in July when he saw a
group of young men drag a table into the street.
They set up shop on the curb and started peddling drugs. "It was
like they were saying, "Who's gonna stop us?" Mr. Dubose recalls.
They certainly weren't worried about the police. The number of
arrests and traffic stops dropped sharply. The police union leader,
Keith Fangman, suggested that being more aggressive would put
officers at risk of becoming scapegoats.
"If you want to make 20 traffic stops a shift and chase every
dope dealer you see, you go right ahead," he wrote in a newsletter.
"Just remember that if something goes wrong, or you make the
slightest mistake in that split second, it could result in having
your worst nightmare come true for you and your family, and City Hall
will sell you out."
The violence continued to escalate. Two days before the Pleasant
Ridge shooting, a 2-year-old boy was critically wounded when he was
caught in the cross-fire of a shootout in Over-the-Rhine.
The city, and its leaders, recoiled at the sight of the little boy
in intensive care.
Police Chief Tom Streicher decided to create a task force to stop
the violence. But first he had to convince his officers.
He met privately with the 42 men and women on the task force and
promised to back them up if they were criticized for using force on
"Rely on your training," he told them. "Use force if you have
to, and I'll support you."
Many in the community, including those who had been critical of
police, welcomed the officers back. For the first time since the
riots, a fragile truce seemed to emerge. Everyone agreed the
bloodshed had to stop.
The truce was tested almost immediately, when 21-year-old Rickey
Moore was shot and killed by a white police officer in Millvale. Mr.
Moore had a history of mental problems. He was shot as he walked up
and down a street threatening people with a shotgun.
He was the first black man killed by police since Timothy Thomas'
death ignited the riots.
More than 150 people gathered that night for a candlelight vigil.
As the crowd grew, Mr. Moore's mother rose to speak. She was worried
about more violence, more riots.
"I'm not going to have that,'' she said. ""I want it to come to
an end. I want people to pray."
And for several hours that night, they did. Then they made their
way home in peace.
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:
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