Curly tales of the city


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The Body Politic
Wouldn't you expect supporters of the police department to be more civil toward the mayor? A sign on Fountain Square last week, where police gathered to honor officers killed on duty, said, "Charlie Luken Has No Balls." Yes, the police are under a lot of pressure, but is this kind of gutter talk necessary? (See "Why Is Our Mayor Still Dickless?" issue of Dec. 7-13, 2000.)

At the same rally, wives and other supporters of police distributed blue ribbons bearing the words, "Concerns of Police Survivors," apparently oblivious to the irony. Cancer survivors are victims of cancer. Abuse survivors are victims of abuse. What therefore are police survivors? Perhaps residents of Over-the-Rhine can help explain it.

Ya gotta love the police division's sense of humor.

A press release from Lt. Col. Richard Janke this week took note of plans for protests downtown June 1-3 (See "Get Up, Stand Up," page 16). Because protesters will highlight the killing of 15 African-American men by police in the past five years, they might welcome this statement by Janke: "Officers must avoid using unnecessary violence." The rest of the statement, however, is none too welcoming, detailing police policy on the use of "beanbag" shotguns, rubber bullets, tear gas and, if required, "lethal force" during demonstrations.

Add community radio station WAIF (88.3 FM) to the list of casualties of last month's unrest. The station's annual fund drive began the same week as the street violence and curfew and over the next three weeks raised barely half of its $30,000 goal.

The fund drive took a back seat to efforts at simply staying on the air, says WAIF Program Director Kitty Carson, who notes that about one-third of the volunteer on-air staff couldn't or didn't host their scheduled shows due to curfew restrictions. Other programmers filled in and held the fort, she says.

The spring drive's shortfall is even more dramatic because the station recently lost its only other significant source of income — a City of Cincinnati grant for $4,600 — due to a paperwork snafu.

In light of WAIF's 25 years of providing the Tristate's most diverse and open-minded radio voice, the financial fallout is tragic.

The "action teams" for Cincinnati Community Action Now, the new commission on race, include corporate CEOs, heads of non-profit corporations and political leaders — the usual suspects. But one bright light is Victoria Straughn, the CityBeat 2001 Person of the Year.

A Vested Interest? Bingo!
A kind of charming naiveté marked the announcement of local ministers' boycott of Taste of Cincinnati, with reporters noting that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati isn't officially joining the effort. Did anyone really expect Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, whose parishes raise millions of dollars at summer festivals, to participate?

A couple of recent think pieces from national magazines offered interesting perspectives on the unrest. The New Republic's "Did Integration Cause the Cincinnati Riots?" questions the extent to which white homeowners and business owners migrating back into Over-the-Rhine have used the police to protect them and their property from the local black population.

"Their dreams have been realized," Senior Editor Michelle Cottle writes about those who hoped for inner-city revitalization in OTR. "Whites are more likely to live near the black poor than anyone would have predicted a decade ago. But they often remain separated from those neighbors by a thin blue line. And, as Cincinnati shows, if there's one thing more dangerous than segregation, it may be integration without equality."

Find the story at

Mother Jones, meanwhile, compares Cincinnati's unrest — which the media commonly called a "riot" — to last month's anti-globalization activities in Quebec, which left an estimated 34 police and 45 demonstrators injured but which was almost universally called a "protest."

In "When Is a Protest Not a Protest? When the Demonstrators Are Black," Contributing Editor Brooke Shelby Biggs says the argument in favor of the use of the word "riot" came down to one key factor — white fear: "The New York Times reported that, in Cincinnati, 'groups of young blacks had raided stores, set fires and alarmed whites.' Were black families somehow not alarmed by the violence?"

Find the story at

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 23) or [email protected]

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