- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2001

A prosecutor in Cincinnati yesterday promised to pursue hate crimes charges against anyone who engaged in racially motivated attacks during the riots that rocked the city last week.
Local news media captured numerous incidents in which black rioters attacked white people at random. In one case, an albino black woman said she was assaulted by a mob who mistook her for a white woman.
"There is no way of knowing how widespread was, but I watched the news broadcasts and saw quite a few accounts, " said Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen. "We have subpoenaed the four local television stations to get all of their raw footage. This was a full-scale riot here."
Mr. Allens office has formed a 17-member "riot prosecution" team that will view videotaped news footage and peruse newspaper accounts of incidents to help police make arrests.
"There may have been more incidents of this nature than anybody thinks," said one law enforcement official in Cincinnati, who asked not to be named.
A grand jury that was due to adjourn will be held over by the prosecutors office in order to hear the riot-related cases beginning this week.
The FBI also yesterday promised to investigate any individual crimes that were based on the race of the victim. There is no federal hate crimes law, but civil rights statutes can be used in prosecuting such cases, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.
"If victims of those assaults will come forward, we will look at them," said Ed Boldt, a spokesman for the bureaus Cincinnati division. "There certainly is the potential for ."
Police, though, downplayed the prevalence of racially motivated violence. Lt. Raymond Ruberg of the Cincinnati Police Department put the number of racial attacks at a "few."
Mayor Charlie Luken yesterday lifted the 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed Thursday. The curfew had been widely ignored; 212 violators were arrested Friday night. The mayor would not comment on any hate crimes committed during the riots.
Spokeswoman Brooke Hill said Mr. Luken has "been very clear that hes representing all communities. She added that the city is still in a state of emergency: "The black community is scared, and the white community is scared because its being targeted because of the color of their skin."
Ohio law stipulates that "ethnic intimidation," if proven, enhances the severity of a crime.
For example, a second-degree felony assault becomes a first-degree felony if race is a motivating factor.
According to news accounts, several white victims were targeted by blacks enraged over the April 7 police shooting death of Timothy Thomas, 19.
The victims were pulled from their cars and beaten. Robert Stearns, a white truck driver from neighboring Kentucky, was severely beaten after a group of blacks attempted to steal his parked vehicle in a riot-torn part of Cincinnati.
"He was inside making a delivery and heard gears grinding on his truck, " said Steve Borth, general manager of HGP Industries, a glass fabricating company. "He came out and they attacked him."
Mr. Stearns told a Louisville newspaper that the attacking mob shouted, "Kill him, kill him, kill him," as his attackers took turns kicking and punching him.
"We are looking to identify these people, " said Jon Esther, a public information officer for the Hamilton County Prosecutors Office. "This is a particularly egregious incident."
Police said yesterday that six officers and two state troopers were under investigation for an incident that injured four.
Two adults and two young girls were shot with nonlethal, bean-bag projectiles as police attempted to disperse demonstrators after the funeral Saturday of the slain man, Timothy Thomas, 19.
One victim, 34-year-old high school teacher Christine Jones of Louisville, Ky., remained in a Louisville hospital yesterday for treatment of a bruised spleen, cracked rib and bruised lung.
In another incident, reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Roslyn Jones, an albino black woman, was driving through a troubled area last week when she heard someone shout something about a "white girl." Miss Jones didnt think the comment was directed at her.
The black crowd apparently thinking Miss Jones was white threw bricks at her car, one brick striking her in the head.
"The first piece of white skin they saw, they hit it, " Miss Jones told the newspaper.
Leah Sweeney-Spurrier lives off Main Street and operates a design business in one of the neighborhoods struck by rioters.
When the disturbances intensified Wednesday, it was a "night of white terror," she told the Enquirer. "It turned from a police issue to a black-white issue."
As of yesterday, 837 adults and juveniles had been arrested in connection with the violence since April 9, either on criminal charges or the misdemeanor offense of violating the curfew, Cincinnati police said. Close to 100 of those cases will go to a grand jury as felonies.
But Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, called the disturbance, which swept through the mostly black downtown areas, a "righteous, divinely ordained rebellion."
Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that Cincinnati was the "belly of the storm."
Jesse Jackson is scheduled to visit the city today.


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