Mayor John Cranley has issued a 10 p.m. curfew for downtown and Over-the-Rhine effective tonight and tomorrow. The curfew also includes The Banks and the West End. It ends at 6 a.m.
The curfew comes as a result of the events surrounding last night's protests over the death of George Floyd and the resulting property damage and criminal activity in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.
"The biggest and most important issue facing the country today, and our city as a result, is the murder of George Floyd and it has obviously, understandably, created a great deal of anger and righteous indignation about life in this country," said Cranley at a press briefing.
He said that hundreds of people gathered yesterday to peacefully express their anger and frustration over the death of Floyd, and that there were no issues until about 11:30 p.m. when a small group of people started breaking windows and stealing items from businesses who were already struggling to recover from the impact of the coronavirus shut-downs.
"Let me state unequivocally that the people who engaged in criminal behavior last night were not part of the protest," Cranley said. "There is and has always been in these episodes throughout American history a conflation between people who are exercising their First Amendment right to protest and to free speech and people who take advantage and exploit that opportunity to engage in criminal behavior. They are not the same thing. They are not the same people."
Some of the businesses he listed that had been damaged include BlaCk Coffee, Cappel's and MiCA 12/v.
"It is completely unfair to target someone like BlaCk Coffee or Cappel's or MiCA," he said.
He also made clear that OTR and downtown are open for business until 10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow and that it is important to support local shops and restaurants as they attempt to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Eleven people were arrested last night for charges ranging from burglary to breaking and entering to disorderly conduct and more. Cranley said there will be more arrests coming based on video evidence and he expects more arrests tonight.
Cranley said the curfew will help police as they determine who is engaged in criminal activity.
"Last night, there were literally hundreds of people who were just out enjoying dinner, just walking — maybe they had previously been part of the protest — but were not engaged in any criminal behavior," Cranley said. "But that led to a major crowd-control issue where the police were trying to go after the very few that were causing a lot of criminal damage but had hundreds of people to get through who were doing nothing wrong."
Police Chief Eliot Isaac — who started his statement saying he stands "with the entire nation and entire law enforcement community that condemns the actions (of the officer) who killed George Floyd" — said the curfew is "definitely needed in light of what we saw last night and what we're seeing around the nation." He said CPD will be working in 12-hour shifts and he has canceled off-days for the remaining weekend to significantly increased law enforcement presence.
"We cannot allow this to happen in our city. We will not allow it," Isaac said.
The unrest last night is the most intense the city has seen since the 2001 riots resulting from the police shooting death of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Over-the-Rhine. But Cranley inferred the work the city's police department has done since then has uniquely prepared them for situations like this.
"Our police, in my opinion, based on a long and tough journey over the last 20 years, are the best at being professional and sensitive to First Amendment rights but drawing the line at criminal behavior," he said.