The police shooting of black men, culminating in the death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, sparked days of civil unrest in Cincinnati in 2001. The protests became destructive in some cases. More than 800 people were arrested for violating a curfew imposed by the mayor. An economic boycott has put a financial burden on events in the inner city.
This all happened two decades ago after Thomas was shot while trying to escape the police. He was reportedly wanted for several non-violent offenses, most of which were traffic quotes.
But the narrative of what happened to Thomas is well known: Black men, teenagers, and women, many of whom are unarmed, are more likely to be killed by the police than any other race.
Black people are killed at the rate of 35 per million while white people are killed at the rate of 14 per million, reports the Washington Post.
But what is the Cincinnati criminal justice system like now? How has Over-the-Rhine, where Thomas was killed, changed since filming?
Use of force, shootings
Arrests and use of force by CPD have fallen sharply since 2000; However, this reflects a national trend in most major cities and here it is unlikely that it can be fully explained by police reforms. Meanwhile, blacks in Cincinnati are still more subject to violence, shootings, arrest warrants, arrests and Mairjuana violations.
In 2000 there were 1,266 cases of violence in the area. About 68% of them (857) were against blacks, although the data for some incidents did not include race information.
Last year there were 345 cases of violence on the ground. 75 percent were against blacks in a city where race makes up around 43 percent of the population.
Five-year samples of shooting data from CPD show 15 officers-involved shootings between 1996 and 2001, eleven of which were with black men. 13 people were shot dead by police between 2016 and 2020. Nine blacks were involved.
In 2020, a person was shot in the back by an officer during a fight while police were arresting him. But Police Chief Eliot Isaac says the incident was an accidental shooting and “inappropriate use of force”.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac will discuss some of these dates in the Cincinnati Edition on Tuesday lunchtime. Listen to the program here.
Cincinnati no-knock warrants, such as the type brought into national limelight due to the murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, have plummeted over the past 15 years, peaking from 44 in 2008 to two im Year 2019 and none last year.
But when the police use them, they’re more likely to be used in historically black neighborhoods like Avondale, Walnut Hills, and parts of Over-the-Rhine.
No-knocks arrest data provided to WVXU earlier this year was incomplete, but it showed that, over the past five years, 27 out of 34 people arrested were black and 24 were black.
Whites made up only 20% of these arrests and were disproportionately white women.
The Cincinnati Police Department has largely declined to comment on no-knock arrest warrants, but they made a brief statement saying that Chief Elliot Isaac does not support the removal of the department’s discretion not to use knocking altogether but “open to a thoughtful review of our current process and research into law enforcement best practice on this important issue.”
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Public Safety should deal with the reforms proposed by Councilor Chris Seelbach in February without a knock. However, the problem was overridden while officials said they were working on the problem behind the scenes.
Seelbach and committee chairman Christopher Smitherman have not returned requests for interviews on the status of the issue.
Click here for an interactive map of 15 years of no knock warrants executed by the CIncinnati POlice division.
Black people are not only more likely to face severe police consequences. They are also more likely than whites to have ramifications for minor crimes.
A 2019 study by The Cincinnati Enquirer and Eye on Ohio found that between 2009 and 2017, police carried out 120% more traffic stops in neighborhoods where 75% or more blacks lived. Black residents were involved in arrests 75% of the time.
Overall, black residents made up 57% of all pedestrian or driver stops in Cincinnati.
Chief Isaac told WCPO last year, “The dates are where we are taken to the same places. It turns out that those places are usually colored communities. They are usually in the poor Communities. Communities that have challenges with education and a variety of things. “
Similar differences emerge when comparing data on marijuana citations, arrests, and violations.
The city council voted to decriminalize possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana in 2019. This should mean no fines, jail sentences, or employment claims would be required.
However, the council lacks approval to revise state law, which requires a quote and a $ 150 fine for 100 grams or less of marijuana.
In 2020, 426 blacks were warned, quoted, or arrested for possessing 100 grams or less of marijuana. Fifty-one whites received the same consequences.
In fact, data released by the Cincinnati Police Department shows that there were several months of the year when whites were not cited for minor marijuana crimes. That doesn’t apply to months for blacks.
Chef Isaac briefly discussed the numerical discrepancy during a virtual town hall at the end of January. He said he couldn’t know the reasons for the data without knowing the details of the cases.
He suggested that poverty might be a factor, as he did with racial differences in traffic quotes.
Changes in the Rhine
Criminal justice isn’t the only problem that has changed since 2001. Over-the-Rhine, where Timothy Thomas was killed, has also changed.
With the infamous crime rate and much of the neighborhood in decline, the city of Cincinnati and the business community decided to spend $ 30 million to buy 200 buildings in the early 2000s. They did it through the City Center Development Corporation (3CDC).
The move has poured millions of dollars into efforts to expand and renovate Race and Vine Streets, Washington Park, and build condominiums and townhouses. Some affordable apartments have also been built. Trendy restaurants, bars and shops also appeared.
But investing in the neighborhood changed the racial makeup of Over-the-Rhine.
According to the US census, nearly 6,000 blacks lived in Over-The Rhine in 2000. Ten years later, that number dropped to 4,361.
Reporters Nick Swartsell, Cory Sharber and Ann Thompson contributed to this coverage.