- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2001

The FBI in Cincinnati is pursuing hate-crimes charges against black rioters who randomly attacked whites in three incidents last month.
FBI spokesman Ed Boldt said his division was working the cases, "which arose from allegations received after the disturbances. These were brought by complaints." Mr. Boldt declined to identify the race of the suspects.
But a law enforcement source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the suspects were part of black gangs that rampaged during three days of disturbances in mid-April.
One white man already has been indicted on racial intimidation charges, the states version of a hate-crimes law. The riots were triggered by the April 7 police shooting death of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19-year-old black man, who was running from officers.
During the violent outbreaks, rioters broke the windows of downtown merchants, looted stores and started fires.
And some yanked white motorists from their cars and beat them.
"These would be felonies and, under federal law, punishable by up to ten years," said Mike Allen, Hamilton County Prosecutor. Mr. Allen had previously questioned federal agencies apparent lack of interest in pursuing numerous reports of hate crimes that were reported during the riots.
He has promised to vigorously pursue such offenses committed by anyone, regardless of race.
"I am obviously very happy that the FBI has chosen to investigate these cases," Mr. Allen said. His office can work with the FBI on prosecuting the cases under federal and county law, Mr. Allen said. That would provide the heft of both federal and local penalties. The cooperative effort is akin to that used to prosecute bank robberies.
The news is an answer of some kind for John Ridel, who has wondered if his case will get any attention. He filed a report with the Cincinnati police, saying he was beaten by a mob of 15 blacks in north Cincinnati as the downtown was raging last month.
The riots had spread, although Mr. Ridel didnt know about it.
The Cincinnati man said he was driving through the city with his fiancee and her 10-year-old son when a group of black protesters blocked his car.
Mr. Ridel got out. They jumped him.
"I took two steps, thats the last thing I remember," he said.
Witnesses called the police, who arrived and broke things up.
But when police investigators failed to respond to his complaint ("They basically blew me off," he said), Mr. Ridel took the matter to the FBI.
"Im glad to hear that someone may look into this," he added.
The riots and the indictment of Stephen Roach, the officer who shot Timothy Thomas, have fueled a combustible racial stew in the city of 330,000. Traditionally popular events such as concerts and celebrations are being threatened by activist groups that promise to protest at them.
One of the citys leading civil rights crusaders, the Rev. Damon Lynch III, said earlier this week that he intends to keep the heat on city leaders throughout the summer via sit-ins and demonstrations.
The result of those protests, he hopes, will be relief of what he perceives as "racial problems."
His followers have so far staged a sit-in at a restaurant, marches through city streets, and protests at City Hall.
One targeted event, "Taste of Cincinnati," draws up to 500,000 people and brings in an estimated $25 million to the city. Mr. Lynch said the annual Memorial Day weekend celebration should not be held because of strife in the city. Cincinnati leaders have acquiesced, for the most part, to the wishes of protesters.
Minette Cooper, the citys vice mayor, said she and her colleagues can try to calm the civil rights agitators, but "how many times can we do that? We also have to make some of the changes necessary, which means police reform, economical development."
And there is the inevitable federal lawsuit, which was filed this week by the family of Mr. Thomas. The suit claims that the city of Cincinnati is ultimately to blame for the shooting death of Mr. Thomas.
Mr. Thomas death, the lawsuit claims, stems from the pattern of civil rights abuses by officers "who have lied about their actions in fatal shootings to justify a claim of self-defense."
The civil action seeks unspecified damages.
City Council member Pat DeWine said yesterday that the city has already been too weak in its stand against detractors. He admits the police department, beleaguered by accusations of misconduct for years, may justify the federal investigation that was announced on Monday.
But, "We have to get rid of this idea that the only way to deal with all of this is to cave in to some of these people who are making threats," Mr. DeWine said. "How can we create a jobs program, which we did, when we cant even find enough lifeguards to keep all of our city pools open? This is like the 60s, creating jobs for people to do nothing."


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