Cbr12bingo No money
I received this graphic history as a gift recently. It’s a short book about the race riots that rocked my hometown Cincinnati in 2001 and about the systemic racism that runs throughout our country still. Writer/artist Dan Mendez Moore was a high school student in Cincinnati when police violence led to public demonstrations, riots and a curfew. This story, first published in 2012, revisits his experience of those days and provides the point of view of key community leaders who were also involved in the demonstrations.
In the spring of 2001, Moore was a 17-year-old high school student familiar with some of the more “dangerous” parts of town. He and his friends used to hang out in an area called Over-the-Rhine, which at that time was considered a risky neighborhood. They volunteered at food banks and participated in demonstrations against homelessness and the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue. Cincinnati riot police responded to the latter demonstration and some of Moore’s friends were arrested. It was during those demonstrations that Moore became aware of protests against police violence toward black men in Cincinnati. Police had mistakenly identified Roger Owensby as a crime suspect; he died in custody after being maced, struck and choked. The police involved never faced consequences for this, and when demonstrators walked down the streets of Cincinnati in protest (as recalled by one of those demonstrators), police reacted with more violence.
The police killing of Timothy Thomas, however, is at the center of this history, and Mendez reveals the details of this young man’s life and death piecemeal through his story. Sadly, one could almost guess the details because what happened to Timothy Thomas has happened and continues to happen Black men across America. Police pulled him over for driving while Black, checked his record, finding a number of minor traffic violations, and then shot him in the back when he ran. Moore and some friends went to Cincinnati City Hall along with hundreds of other angry citizens; community leaders confronted the city council about police violence and the lack of consequences, but it was clear that no one with authority was going to take the police to task. Over the next several days, demonstrators took to the streets of Cincinnati, while police responded in ways that escalated violence. Riot police shot rubber bullets at senior citizens, women and children. Moore presents the voices of several people involved, including a looter and one of the ministers who marched at the front of the demonstrations. The Reverend Damon Lynch’s recollections are especially interesting and show how demonstrators have changed their views and tactics over time.
Ultimately, Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, in response to the demonstrations, looting and violence, called for a curfew on the city from 8 pm to 6 am. Those found out after 8 pm could be arrested and, unsurprisingly, that curfew was rigorously enforced in predominantly Black neighborhoods, while white people were treated with leniency. The events of the city made national news and NAACP president Kwesi Mfume came to town, meeting with Timothy Thomas’ mother and other community representatives. Timothy Thomas’ funeral drew large crowds and prominent political and community leaders; they made promises and paid platitudes but nothing really changed.
Today, the Over the Rhine neighborhood has been gentrified, with many of the poor and minority residents pushed out. Cincinnati still has a race problem, as do cities across the country. Here in southwestern PA, Johnny Gammage (1995) and teenager Antwon Rose (2019) were both killed by police during traffic stops. I think anyone paying attention to the news could give a list of names of Black people killed by police, often in routine traffic stops. I’m glad Dan Mendez Moore wrote this history. Justice has not been served, and none of these victims should be forgotten.