- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

The city of Cincinnati, beset by a boycott from the black community that has crippled some business entities, yesterday announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed by activists who accused police of decades of racial profiling.

The agreement orders numerous changes in police procedures and ways to improve police-community relations from among a set of 90 recommended by the U.S. Justice Department in October.

Included are steps to prevent excessive use of police force and to monitor accusations of police misconduct.

Additionally, the city will have to spend up to $12 million over five years for enhanced technology and additional personnel to police the police.

The settlement, Mayor Charlie Luken said, should satisfy those who are leading the boycott and force them to end the sanctions.

"This is clearly a sign the boycott is no longer necessary," Mr. Luken said.

The boycott has been supported by much of the black community, although it has hurt many black merchants and employees. A downtown arts association filed a suit last month against one black group that convinced several black entertainers, including Bill Cosby, to cancel Cincinnati appearances.

The profiling lawsuit was filed last year by the Cincinnati Black United Front, the American Civil Liberties Union and a local businessman, accusing the city of 30 years of racially discriminatory law enforcement by Cincinnati police.

The suit was filed three weeks before a black teen-ager was shot to death while running away from police, triggering riots and further charges of police racism. Timothy Thomas, 19, was the 15th black man to die in confrontations with city police since 1995.

"With what is taken care of with this settlement, there is no reason any more for a boycott," said Chris Monzel, one of two Republican members of the nine-person city council.

"There are some things here, in the technology, that are good," Mr. Monzel said. "But I am hesitant on the cost."

The settlement must be ratified by the city council, the Cincinnati Black United Front, the Fraternal Order of Police and the American Civil Liberties Union before it can be finally approved by Judge Susan Dlott of the U.S. District Court.

The Rev. Damon Lynch III, who is heading the boycott of the city, told reporters in Cincinnati, "We think we have an agreement that will be a landmark for this city and for this nation."

He added that the boycott will continue, and said that the city has failed to show progress in improving the lives of its black residents.

"Justice is healing. That's what we haven't had," he said.

Out of the 15 police shootings, investigators found evidence in three to take officers to trial. In most of the 15 incidents, the suspects wielded weapons, and, in some cases, shot at or accosted officers. In Mr. Thomas' case, the suspect had 14 warrants when he fled an officer who was attempting to stop him on the street.

The settlement yesterday is one more concession to the black community the city has made since last year.

Among those actions:

•City Manager John Shirey, under pressure from several council members, stepped down from his $149,000-a-year job and was replaced with Valerie Lemmie, the first black woman to hold the position.

•The city allocated nearly $70 million for development in black neighborhoods.

•The city spent $2.3 million on finding jobs for unemployed teen-agers in the city.

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