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Cincinnati's Racial Lawsuit

Cincinnati, Ohio gained national attention in April 2001 when Police Officer Stephen Roach shot unarmed 19-year old Timothy Thomas in an alley after Thomas fled while Roach was trying to arrest him on 14 misdemeanor warrants. At that time, Thomas was the 15th African American killed by Cincinnati police since 1995. The shooting ignited protests and four days of riots. Three weeks prior to the Thomas shooting, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Black United Front (BUF) filed a racial profiling lawsuit. It accused the city of 30 years of racial profiling, using excessive force towards African Americans, and treating them unfairly. The lawsuit took on a new life after the killing, which was viewed by many as a devastating turn to the city's already simmering racial tensions.

Negotiators representing the ACLU, the BUF, the City Council, the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), and the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) worked into early Wednesday morning trying to iron out details of the settlement, with a goal of reaching a tentative agreement before Sunday, the anniversary of Thomas's death. The 60-page agreement, if approved as written, would restrict the use of police dogs and chemical irritants, improve the investigation of citizen complaints, enhance police interaction with community groups, and set clear guidelines to govern the use of force on suspects. Additionally, the city will have to spend up to $12 million over five years for enhanced technology and additional personnel to police the police. In the meantime, there is an ongoing boycott of Cincinnati's downtown hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues by local black organizations. The boycott gained momentum in recent months when entertainers such as Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Smokey Robinson, and Wynton Marsalis canceled performances. In addition, a national black religious group canceled a 10,000-member convention that was expected to generate more than $8 million for the local economy. For more information on Cincinnati's lawsuit settlement, viewers may access the first two articles from the Chicago Tribune and, respectively. The third link provides information on Cincinnati's plans to establish an independent agency for investigating police brutality complaints. The Cincinnati Police Department's Web site contains the "Administrative Review of the Stephen Roach Shooting Case," which includes Officer Stephen Roach's description of the shooting of Mr. Thomas, as provided in an interview to the Homicide Unit on April 7, 2001. The report also includes testimonies from other officers who responded to the foot pursuit of Mr. Thomas. The fifth link will take users directly to ACLU of Ohio's Home Page, while the last link provides direct access to ACLU's April 7, 2001 Press Release of the Thomas shooting.
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Date Issued
Date of Scout Publication
April 5th, 2002
Date Of Record Creation
April 7th, 2003 at 5:14pm
Date Of Record Release
April 7th, 2003 at 5:14pm
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