- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

Cincinnati police yesterday charged a 15-year-old black youth with a hate crime in an attack on a white truck driver during three days of racial riots there last month.
The unidentified teen-ager, also charged with aggravated rioting and robbery, pleaded not guilty yesterday. He is the second person to be charged with ethnic intimidation, Ohios version of hate crime prosecution.
He is accused of assaulting the truck driver and attempting to steal his vehicle as it sat outside a shop near the riot area April 10.
Prosecutors have asked the juvenile court to release the suspect so that he may be charged as an adult. He faces a June 8 hearing to determine the jurisdiction.
Police also arrested a 14-year-old and charged him with two counts of aggravated rioting. His hearing date is June 6.
A juvenile magistrate ordered both suspects to remain in custody until their cases are heard. Police and the Hamilton County prosecutors office said that more arrests — and similar charges — are forthcoming.
"We had video footage of the riots, and this has enabled us to start finding the people who committed these crimes," said Cincinnati Police Lt. Ray Ruberg. "And I dont think we're done with it yet."
The officer said that both news and amateur video footage have been used to find the accused. The two teen-aged suspects were identified with help from neighborhood patrol officers.
The April 7 fatal shooting of an unarmed, black 19-year-old man set off three days of racial riots that swept through a district of the downtown called Over-the-Rhine, a predominantly black neighborhood.
White motorists were attacked by mostly black youth gangs during the fracas. Police made 837 arrests that yielded 66 indictments, charges ranging from aggravated rioting to looting.
At several points over the past several weeks, some community leaders have asked prosecutors for amnesty, saying it would help heal the city. Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen again yesterday rebuffed such requests.
"The quickest way to allow this kind of stupidity to happen again is to grant amnesty," Mr. Allen said.
He added that the 15-year-old could eventually end up in a federal court. Because the suspect was reportedly attempting to steal a vehicle, federal prosecutors could take over the case under the federal carjacking statute, a law that Ohio lacks. "We may push for carjacking, but we want to get this settled first," Mr. Allen said.
Truck driver Robert Stearns was delivering safety glass and had been in a store when he heard someone trying to move his truck. He ran out and tried to push a man out of the trucks cab.
A video shows Mr. Stearns being punched several times by a man as the truck driver tried to get out of the cab, as a crowd of up to 20 people gathered. When he slipped out of the cabin, the throng attacked.
"They were yelling 'Kill the white man and 'Kill whitey," Mr. Stearns said in an interview earlier this month. "The more they yelled, the more they beat me. Why they wanted to kill me, I dont know."
The ethnic intimidation charge adds to the potential sentence in misdemeanor or felony cases.
Valerie Montgomery, the 15-year-olds mother, told a Cincinnati television station yesterday that her son is contrite about his behavior.
"I hope somebody would just know that if he had a chance, which hes trying to make amends now, that he will be a productive person in society," Miss Montgomery told WLWT.
Her son is the second person to be charged with ethnic intimidation. A 20-year-old white man has been indicted for purported throwing a brick through the car window of a black man.
The shooting has racially polarized the city of 350,000, prompting local civil rights activists to call for the boycotting of city events until their grievances have been addressed.
They also say that the shooting was typical of a department that treats black suspects callously. The officer who was indicted in the shooting, Stephen Roach, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. His trial is expected to begin later this summer.
Agents from the U.S. Justice Department descended on the city after the disturbances and were criticized by the local law-enforcement community when the federal agency declined to pursue hate-crimes investigations and instead began an investigation of the Cincinnati Police Department.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called for the investigation to see if Cincinnatis police officers have engaged in a pattern of excessive force against the citys black residents.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide