Reacting to Cincinnati Riots, ACLU Calls for Calm and Restraint on All Sides, Seeks Dialogue on Racism

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
April 12, 2001 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Ohio
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United States


CLEVELAND--The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio expresses its sincere sympathies to the family of Timothy Thomas, and to all those who have suffered through the tragic loss of his life. The outpouring of grief surrounding the latest death of an unarmed African American at the hands of police underscores a deep and pervasive problem with which the citizens, officials and police in Cincinnati must come to terms. Justice demands no less.

The strife that has grown from the death of Timothy Thomas is a clear indication of the way in which racial profiling, over-policing, and a breakdown in communications between the police and the community can tear a city in two. Police practices which target people based on the color of their skin have no place in a free society.

Under our system of government, the people have a sacred and inalienable right to voice their demand for justice through orderly and peaceful protest. Violence, looting and random acts of mayhem neither advance the cause of justice nor honor the memory of those whose death we mourn. We appeal to all the people of Cincinnati to remain calm and to exercise restraint and respect for the rights of others in the hours and days ahead.

The response of the city and the police to events in the last few hours is a source of great concern to us. We recognize that a strong police presence is in rare instances necessary to preserve public order. Still, we are concerned about the citywide curfew imposed by the mayor earlier today. Such drastic restraints on the freedom of the people are tolerable only as long as absolutely necessary to maintain public safety.

We call on the police to exercise professional restraint during the days ahead. The people of Cincinnati should know that we are monitoring events as they unfold, and are committed to defending their civil and political rights. We will monitor the situation to ensure that any restrictions on liberty are as narrow as possible and that police use of force is appropriate and justified.

The ACLU of Ohio is currently working through the federal courts to bring racial profiling in Cincinnati to an end. We urge the city, the community and the police to work with us toward that end, without which no real justice is possible.

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