Curly tales of the city


Jun 21, 2001 at 2:06 pm

The Gang That Couldn't Cuff Straight
The first of nine people arrested June 2 in Mount Adams for protesting police brutality has gone to trial and won acquittal. Officers charged Benjamin Samuels, 24, of Rochester, N.Y., with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest (see "¡Viva Cincinnatistas!," issue of June 7-13). In a trial June 14, Hamilton County Municipal Judge Cheryl Grant found Samuels not guilty on both counts.

The acquittal continues the pattern begun with arrests during protests last year against the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD): Everyone who fought those charges either was acquitted or had them dismissed.

In fact, two more of the people arrested during the TABD conference filed suit June 19 against Cincinnati Police officers. Jonathan Blickenstaff and his son Jacob Blickenov filed a civil-rights complaint in federal court accusing officers D. Coates, Donald Elsaesser and five others identified as John Doe of false arrest. Charged with disorderly conduct, Blickenstaff and Blickenov spent two days in jail — only to have the charges later dismissed.

Like Samuels, Blickenstaff and Blickenov were arrested during protests against police violence.

Attorney Robert Newman represents Blickenstaff and Blickenov. He also represents other protesters arrested in demonstrations against TABD and protesters allegedly assaulted by officers in April, during peaceful demonstrations that followed Timothy Thomas' shooting death.

Newman filed another suit in federal court this week, accusing Cincinnati Police Officer Tom Branigan of racial profiling in the traffic citation of Michael Davis, an African-American businessman. Charges of speeding and improper lane change against Davis were dismissed at court.

"He was stopped and ticketed on Columbia Parkway," Newman says, "not because he was violating any law but because he was black."

Picking on Handicapped Kids
Japanese, African Americans and gays aren't the only groups singled out for vilification on WLW (700 AM). At 3 p.m. June 16, WLW took on mentally retarded children.

Sterling Schlessler — a talk-show host affiliated with WLW's sister station in Columbus, according to program director Daryl Parks — treated listeners to a discussion of a mentally retarded boy trying out for junior-varsity baseball. Schlessler, who uses only his first name on the air, nearly exhausted all the possible insults for this particular disability: "Tard," "short-bus rider," "not quite right upstairs" and "spastic."

Sayler Park residents have enlisted every level of government in their fight to block Lone Star Industries' from building a cement distribution plant at the former Home City Ice property near River Road. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and most of Cincinnati City Council oppose Lone Star, which needs a permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to build three moorings in the river for securing barges.

Surely, the OEPA will look beyond technical details of the permit and consider the effect a cement plant will have on a quiet community, right? At a public hearing at the Sayler Park Community Center, Driehaus said he doesn't think the OEPA will.

"Does it serve the good of the people?" Driehaus asked. "Already tonight I'm wondering if that's the direction we're heading in addressing the minutiae of this permit."

Note to OEPA: You could save some face by learning the proper pronunciations of state representatives' names. At the hearing an OEPA official called Driehaus to the podium by saying "dry-house."

A decision on the permit is expected in July.

The march against black-on-black violence June 16 was a flop, drawing just 150 of the 1,000 participants predicted. Sam Malone, a Republican candidate for city council, organized the march, which was backed by Officer Keith Fangman — president of the Queen City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and well-known for his concern for the well-being of black people in Cincinnati.

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was protest fatigue. Maybe it was the fact that many African Americans revile Fangman.

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