Hot News!

Smitherman talks about early voting on MSNBC



Visit us at Twitter!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Cincinnati: A Decade since the Rebellion of 2001 - What Have We Learned, Where Are We Now? (Part 1)

Posted by Cincinnati Beacon Staff

Photo courtesy of here.

Guest series by Dan La Botz

(Updated:) Ten years ago, after the police killing of a teenager named Timothy Thomas, Cincinnati erupted in what some called vicious riots and others a righteous rebellion. The uprising over a string of police killings of black men made Cincinnati the subject of a national discussion that took place from the pages of the NAACP’s The Crisis and The New York Times to NPR and Nightline. Cincinnati became synonymous in the public mind with racism and bigotry and the reputation lived on for years. Living down that reputation became the goal of City Hall and local business interests who worked to put the matter behind them, burying both the racism and the violence under the magnificent façade of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and drowning out the lingering shouts of pain and protest with jazz, blues and country musical festivals on the riverfront. For the African American community and for many other Cincinnati residents, the real issue has been to confront racism, to challenge the ruling elite’s power, to raise consciousness, transform structures, and shift power. We are still working at it.

The immediate cause of the rebellion was a police shooting of an African American man; for the black community it was the last straw after a series of such killings and after years and even decades of police racism and violence. The injustice of the criminal justice system, however, represented only one aspect of the African American community’s experience of racism which also extended to social segregation, economic exclusion, and widespread alienation from the political system. Out of anger and indignation young African Americans rose up in an angry ghetto uprising, while other black and white activists joined together in political protests and a boycott of the city. Altogether the movements and protests of that year would change the city, result in a new political culture of criticism, dissent, and protest. And Cincinnati would be better for it.

Other recent accounts of the last decade on television and in the local newspaper have discussed the “riots” but have largely ignored or downplayed the role of the Black United Front, the March for Justice and the boycott of the city. Most of the major media have tended to self-congratulation on progress made rather than on a serious examination of the state of the city. This account is meant to challenge and correct those accounts.

Returning to these issues today raises many questions. Where are we today, a decade later? What did we learn from the events that led to the rebellion of 2001? What did we learn from the rebellion, the protests, and the boycott that followed? What was the political upshot of all of those events? And how has Cincinnati changed? Have police-community relations improved? Are Cincinnatians better off—or worse off—today than they were then? Have relations between whites, African Americans and other ethnicities improved? Is our city making progress? What can we do to make it a better place?

Before even turning to the events that took place in that period, it should be noted that the Black United Front represented the most important force for change in Cincinnati in this period. Rev. Damon Lynch III, the pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine, founded the Front and served as its president at the time. While Lynch himself might be described politically as a liberal, many of the Front’s members were admirers of Marcus Garvey and his black nationalist politics inspired the group. With the NAACP failing to provide leadership on race issues at that time, the Front fulfilled the role usually played by that organization and other traditional civil rights groups. It was the Front that picketed restaurants downtown for their racist exclusion of African American diners in 2000, returning to the tactics that had been used in Cincinnati in the 1940s and 1960s. It was the Front and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which brought the lawsuit against the city before Timothy Thomas was killed that later resulted in the Collaborative Agreement. It was the Front and Lynch who a year before the uprising spread the word throughout the black community that the Cincinnati Police’s killing of black men was wrong and had to stop. Lynch’s New Prospect church held the funeral for Thomas. Lynch became the face and voice of the black community both in Cincinnati newspapers and on ABC’s Nightline. A few Front activists, overcoming the opposition of the more militant black nationalists in the group, became the link between the Front and the March for Justice.[1] And it was the Front and the March which sparked the boycott of Cincinnati. At every crucial moment of the struggle in 2000 and 2001, the Black United Front was in the lead.


Cincinnati exploded in protest and rebellion in April and May of 2001 following the April 7 police killing of 19-year old Timothy Thomas, the fifteenth African American man under the age of 50 to be killed by the police between 1995 and 2001.[2] While several of those killed had drawn guns and shot at or shot civilians or police, others did not have fire arms or were killed while in police custody. Thomas, who had committed many misdemeanors and had several warrants for his arrest (but who had no record of violence) was nevertheless chased into an alley, shot and killed by a police officer. Thomas’s mother Angela Leisure showed up at City Hall accompanied by 200 other community members, almost all of them black, to demand that city and police officials explain why her son had been killed, but police and politicians dealt with her contemptuously.

Furious with the killing and the contempt, an angry crowd left City Hall and went across the street to the First District Police Station where they demonstrated and held impromptu interviews with the media. As night fell they marched into Over-the-Rhine, the inner city ghetto since made famous by the film Traffic, there word spread and the neighborhood seethed. When on the following day peaceful protestors attempted to march out of Over-the-Rhine and into the downtown district carrying signs with slogans such as “Stop Killing Us,” police prevented them, frustrations grew, and violence followed. 

During the four days of rioting in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood that followed, windows of businesses were broken, stores were looted, fires were set, and people simply passing through the area were attacked.[3] Mayor Charlie Luken issued a curfew order that lasted two days, but it was generally only enforced in the inner city African American communities and downtown, while Mt. Adams entertainment district catering to well-heeled whites stayed open. The riots caused an estimated $3.6 million in property damage, much of it on the Main Street entertainment district, and 63 of those arrested were indicted on felony charges. Most of those charged with looting were not from Cincinnati. The Cincinnati rebellion of 2001 was the largest disturbance in the city since the ghetto rebellion of 1967 and the largest in the United States since Los Angeles riots of 1992 which began with the unwarranted police beating of an African American man named Rodney King.

Police Shoot Mourners at Funeral

Many white Cincinnatians and suburbanites expressed surprise at the events. African Americans living in the city wondered why things had not blown up sooner. In workplaces and restaurants around the city there was a common conversation: White folks asked, “Why didn’t he stop?” when a policeman told him to, while black folks told stories of how they had stopped and been insulted and roughed up, and sometimes beaten and falsely charged, arrested and jailed.[4] For black Cincinnatians, the killing of Thomas and the other 14 black men represented only the most recent events in a decades-long history of police racism and violence. The Black United Front and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had been working together for some time before Thomas’ killing to find the legal means to restrain the Cincinnati police. Yet even African Americans, cynical as they were about the city, were shocked by the string of killings ending in Thomas’ death.

Thousands turned out for Timothy Thomas’s funeral, filling and then surrounding the New Prospect Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine. Kweisi Mfume, national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), flew in to speak at the funeral, calling Cincinnati “ground zero” for race relations in America.[5] As the hundreds of mourners, mostly African American, left the memorial service and wandered through the streets, some weeping, a squad car of Cincinnati police pulled up, pulled out shotguns, and shot at mourners, including one child with so-called “bean bags.” It was the ultimate insult and indignity.

The March for Justice

Throughout the rest of April and May groups met throughout the city in community centers and churches to discuss the killing of Thomas, the long string of killings of African American men, and as they did other issues came to the fore. Politicians’, business peoples’ and religious leaders’ attempts to foster reconciliation and a return to social peace as rapidly as possible led many to ask questions about economic and political power in the city. Things were not returning quickly enough to the status quo ante. Mayor Charlie Luken announced the creation of a privately funded organization, the Cincinnati Community Action Now (CAN) commission, “to help improve racial equity, opportunity and inclusion.”[6] Like all such “blue ribbon” panels, it was meant to present the appearance of concern and relieve the public conscience while leaving the essentials of the system intact. Rev. Damon Lynch III, pastor of the New Prospect Baptist Church and the man seen as the voice of the Over-the-Rhine community, accepted appointment to the commission, though he was later removed by Mayor Luken for his support of the boycott of the city.[7]

A few months earlier a new grass roots group had formed to challenge national, state and local economic policies—the Coalition for a Humane Economy (CHE).  While not primarily concerned with race issue, when Thomas was killed, CHE activists immediately turned to organizing a response. The group involved community organizers such as Susan Knight and Steve Shoemacher, but also veteran black activists such as boxing coach Jackie Shropshire and his friend Henderson Kirkland, both members of the Black United Front. Some Stonewall activists as well as other LGBT activists also joined this new movement in solidarity with the black community. Out of this came the organizing committee for The March for Justice.

The March for Justice became the place that scores of activists—black and white, gay and straight—meeting each week in different churches around the city could work together to plan a protest as well as to develop a strategy to fight for justice. In planning meetings that sometimes attracted as many as 150 people, organizers projected a massive, legal and peaceful protest meant to challenge the city’s ruling elite, the business community, City Hall, and the police. As the 25-member steering committee planned for the march, the Cincinnati Police Department attempted to intimidate them, announcing that police with live ammunition would be prepared to deal with the protestors.

The March for Justice went ahead despite the threats and on June 2, 2001 attracted about 2,500—black and white, young and old, people from all walks of life—who marched in protest around and through the center of the city and passed in respectful silence the place where Thomas had been killed.[8] Finally the marchers gathered on Fountain Square, intermittently opening and closing their umbrellas in the spring rain, and shouted for Police Chief Tom Streicher, Jr. to resign.

Looking for a Lever: The Boycott

The March for Justice, where perhaps 80 percent of the marchers had been white, had impressed some leaders of the African American community who were looking to build the numbers and power to change Cincinnati. A group of black ministers led by longtime civil rights activist Rev. J.W. Jones asked for a meeting with March for Justice organizers to discuss strategies for pressuring the city’s establishment.[9] A coalition between the mostly white organizers of the March and the black ministers resulted in a new justice movement that began to look for some lever that would make it possible to force change. Soon activists from that coalition and other groups hit upon the idea of a boycott of Cincinnati as a way of pressuring the City’s economic and political decision makers.

Cincinnati as a whole was already being boycotted because of its record of discrimination against gay and lesbian groups. The LGBT community reacted in indignation and anger against Article XII, a city law which made it illegal to protect sexual orientation. In 1992 Cincinnati City Council passed a human rights ordinance which included sexual orientation, which in turn led conservatives on the Council to engineer a City Charter amendment to repeal protection for sexual orientation. Voters approved that amendment in 1993. The gay and lesbian community and its allies then organized a boycott of the city which led almost immediately to the cancellation of conventions and cost hotels and other tourist industries an estimated $40 million or more in contracts. [10]

In addition to the gay boycott of the city, the Black United Front had begun picketing and boycotting restaurants in September 2000 because 14 of 34 downtown restaurants had closed during the Coors Light Festival in July of that year to avoid serving black customers. The call for the picketing and boycott of the restaurants led the Justice Department to come to town to mediate the issue.[11] The following year when the Ujima Cinci-Bration and Coors Light Festival took place, as a result of the Front’s protest, there were no such problems; restaurants stayed open and served African American diners.[12]

Rev. J.W. Jones, the African American ministers, and the mostly white civil rights activists of the March created the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati (CJC) which initiated the new boycott campaign. Jones and the original CJC accepted the fact that African American and gay and lesbian citizens were both fighting injustice and discrimination, and accepted the idea of tacit alliance between the two groups. Others such as those in the Black United Front were uncomfortable both with the idea of black and white unity around the boycott and particularly with acknowledging any commonality with the gay and lesbian community. Stonewall Cincinnati was equally uncomfortable with entering into an alliance with the Front. Three leaders—two white and one black—who called for active solidarity with the African American community’s struggle were voted off the Stonewall board.[13]

These tensions—black/white and gay/straight—would lead to the fragmentation of the civil rights movement of 2001, though they did not completely paralyze it. The Cincinnati boycott of the early 2000s combined the tactics of the Front, boycotting the downtown restaurants and hotels, with the gay strategy of calling for convention and festival boycotts. The CJC took this one step further by calling for a boycott of the city by performers and entertainers – the “performers of conscience” campaign. Together these approaches would cost the city millions.

Cincinnati: Economic Apartheid

The boycott was not simply about police racism and violence. It was also about economics. Those involved in the March for Justice and the Black United Front argued that Cincinnati had not only a criminal justice problem but an economic and social justice problem. Over-the-Rhine, the neighborhood where Thomas had been killed, was a blighted community in every sense of the word. Back in 1950 it had been home to 30,000 people, 99 percent of them white, many descendants of the original German inhabitants who had come in the 19th century. During the 1960s African Americans from the West End had moved into the neighborhood together with whites migrating out of the Appalachian mining communities of Southeast Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Still the turnover in the community continued and by 2000 there were only 7,600 of whom 80 percent were black. Unemployment was high and median family income was only $8,000 per year. Many of the 5,200 habitable units in Over-the-Rhine could not meet the building code and were in dilapidated conditions. Among those buildings were another 500 standing vacant.[14]

While Over-the-Rhine was much poorer than most African American communities, still in many black neighborhoods in Cincinnati, such as Avondale for example, there were high levels of unemployment and too much poverty. Various federal, state and local development programs intended to help struggling communities failed to do so, with millions of dollars going to downtown development meant to attract suburban shoppers or to wealthier Cincinnati communities such as Hyde Park. These conditions led activists infuriated by the killing of Thomas and the others to link the criminal justice issues to an agenda of economic and social justice. The slogan became: “End the economic apartheid in Cincinnati.”

Several groups were eventually involved in the boycott of the city resulting from Thomas’s killling—Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, Cincinnati Black United Front, Coalition of Concerned Citizens for Justice, and the LGBT group Stonewall Cincinnati. Though they failed to unite, still the boycott had an impact, costing the city $10 million in its first year and turning away celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Barbara Ehrenreich, Whoopi Goldberg, Wynton Marsalis, Wyclef Jean, the O’Jays, the Temptations, and Smokey Robinson.[15] The boycott was so effective that in 2001 the Cincinnati Arts Association, the group which organized local concerts, sued boycott organizers for over $500,000 dollars.[16] The boycott organizers were ably defended by local attorney Lucian Bernard with national support from two attorneys with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). The activists responded by suing the city, claiming that the government was infringing on their rights, and the matter was settled out of court. Some activists also received death threats for their involvement in support of gay rights.[17] The African American boycott continued for several years before finally petering out sometime in the mid-2000s.

The Legal Avenue: the Collaborative Agreement

Shortly before the killing of Timothy Thomas, the Black United Front and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had brought a federal suit against the Cincinnati Police. The plaintiffs and the city reached an agreement—called the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement—which, without blaming anyone, would attempt to change the police-community relations.[18] Thousands of Cincinnatians participated in focus groups and discussions which helped to inform the Collaborative Agreement.

Within a year, the U.S. Justice Department, which had been reviewing the Cincinnati Police Department, became involved in the Collaborative Agreement. Together the various parties agreed that the agreement would promote: “community-police oriented policing” to promote improved police-community relations; changes in the Police Department’s use of force policies; creation of an independent citizen’s complaint process. The final agreement was signed by President George W. Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft.

In response to the suit’s attempt to restrain them, the criticism they had received in the media, and the hostility of the African American community, police engaged in a several months slowdown that lead to a decline in arrests and a rise in violent crime.[19] Simultaneously, the establishment leadership resisted the Collaborative Agreement and the Justice Department’s intervention. While Mayor Charlie Luken initially attempted to thwart the process by refusing to pay attorneys, Police Chief Streicher resisted the monitoring of his force, and Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union head Keith Fangman did his best to sabotage any plans for reform. The Police Department’s refusal to cooperate with the monitors finally led Judge Susan Dlott to suggest that she was ready to charge the obstructionists with contempt and jail them. The combined weight of Judge Dlott, the Justice Department, the ACLU and continuing pressure from the black community through the Black United Front and the NAACP which had also joined the suit kept the process going forward. The agreement served to inhibit the Cincinnati Police Department’s racist and trigger-happy practices and to end the string of killings of black men.

The Cincinnati National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

In the midst of this struggle over racial justice, on August 23, 2004, corporate Cincinnati opened the $110 million National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, celebrating past struggles against racism even as it ignored or attempted to stifle the contemporary fight for freedom. Jim Borgman, cartoonist at The Enquirer, captured the moment in his cartoon which depicted a wealthy white man shouting “Free at last!” as Cincinnati sloughed off its racist reputation by opening the magnificent National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Some African Americans were not so thrilled. Activists from the Black United Front and the March for Justice responded to the opening of the center by setting up on that same date on Fountain Square their own “People’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,” a display of photos African American and white abolitionists, civil rights activists, and radicals and manifestoes of anti-racist movements. Some of those activists would for years afterwards boycott the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.[20]

One interesting aside in all of this was consternation, bewilderment and amusement at learning that among others the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center celebrated Carl Lindner, owner of American Financial Group and the city’s richest man as a hero. He was listed as a local freedom fighter for supposedly for having integrated his Masonic Lodge. Many Cincinnatians remembered that Lindner was a former owner of Chiquita Brands International (the successor to the United Fruit Company) whose company had been accused in the Cincinnati Enquirer in May of 1998 of a string of abuses, including mistreating workers and violating their right to unionize, contaminating the environment, bribing foreign government officials, and permitting cocaine smuggling by the company’s ships. Chiquita denied the accusations and won a reported $14 million and other concessions for not suing the newspaper. [21] Chiquita might have won that legal battle, but United Fruit/Chiquita’s long history of skullduggery in Latin America could not be cleansed from the public memory. Carl Lindner’s name appeared on the list of heroes not because he had fought for freedom, but because he paid a lot of the bills, and everyone knew it.

As Damon Lynch III put it in 2003, the boycott organizers had never asked for a museum on the river, they had demanded jobs and housing in the neighborhood.[22]


What was the resolution of the police killings and the uprising against them? In 2003 the City of Cincinnati paid $4.5 million to 16 plaintiffs in what was the largest legal settlement in the city’s history. “The fact is, my son is never coming back,” said Angela Leisure, the mother of Thomas. “But my son isn’t the only son in Cincinnati.” The money could not relieve the pain of the families who grieved for their dead, but it could serve as a warning to the City and the Police Department that racist and violent behavior would be expensive. [23]

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement which resulted from the law suit brought by the Black United Front and the ACLU and later joined by the NAACP, and which led to Justice Department intervention, continued in effect for eight years (including a one year transitional period in 2008).[24] While almost everyone is in agreement that the Agreement led to improvement in police practices and in police/community relations, almost no changes were made in local laws and ordinances. Police Chief Tom Streicher, on whose watch the killings took place, was never fired. The city never created an independent police review board with subpoena power, a point considered by many to be the touchstone of healthy police/community relations.

Such progress as was made was not a result of the wisdom coming down from City Hall and the Police Department, nor from Proctor & Gamble, Krogers, Chiquita, Western Southern Life, and the other corporations headquartered in Cincinnati. Change came from the bottom up from the Black United Front and the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati and their boycott.[25] That is one of the most important lessons of the whole experience.

What Happened to the Movement of the Early 2000s?

When we look back, we can see that for two or three years, in response to the killing of Thomas, activists in Cincinnati had created a number of social and political organizations and built a large social movement. Hundreds of activists were involved and could sometimes move thousands. Why did that movement decline?

Damon Lynch, who had been appointed to and then canned by the CAN Commission in 2001 and later ran and lost a campaign for City Council in 2003, gave up leadership of the Black United Front.[26] Dwight Patton, who succeeded him as president in 2004, was a more ideological black nationalist and not a leader capable of working with white activists, rejected alliances with the gay and lesbian community, and was not capable of moving in the city’s elite and liberal circles as Lynch had. Subsequently the Black United Front gradually ceased to play the leadership role that it had in 2000 to 2002.

By 2002 Rev. J.W. Jones became too sick to continue to hold the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati together and then died, leaving the organization without a personality who could bridge the differences among the members. A power struggle over the leadership of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati which had become the driving force of the boycott ensued. That split was followed by a second fracture eight months later over one CJC member’s participation in a demonstration with an anti-Semitic character. When the dust cleared, a group of the former CJC activists still committed to a black with white, gay with straight human rights perspective created Cincinnati Progressive Action (CPA), a mostly white activist group with a couple members of color. 

The most important factor, however, was the desire of City Hall and local business interests to move forward with their political ambitions and business plans. The point after all, is to make money. As early as January 2002 Mayor Luken suggested that it just wasn’t fair that poor people were monopolizing some of the city’s best real estate. In discussing his State of the City address he had said that the announcement of his new Vine Street Project would “be a signal that Over-the-Rhine is a neighborhood for all, not just people at the lowest income level.”[27] So that’s what happened, City Hall and business began to make it clear that they wouldn’t let poor people stand in their way.

Part 2 available here.

(Revised update April 9th, 2011)


The author, Dan La Botz, is a Cincinnati teacher, writer and activist who was directly involved in the protests in April 2001. He was present at the initial confrontation at the City Council committee meeting on April 8; he then joined other protesters at the First District Police Station that same evening; and later he participated in peaceful protest marches in the midst of the Over-the-Rhine rebellion. He was present at Timothy Thomas’ funeral where police fired on peaceful mourners. Afterwards he helped to organize the March for Justice of June 2 and subsequently he helped to found the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati (CJS) which was one of the boycott organizations. During the late 2000s he worked with Spanish speaking immigrants in CODEDI and responded to the ICE raid at the Koch plant. In 2008 he wrote the pamphlet Who Rules Cincinnati? ( or at In 2010 he was the Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. His book A Vision from the Heartland Socialism for the 21st Century discusses the economic, social and political issues of Ohio, including questions of racial justice (


I could not have written this article without the help of my friends Linda Newman and Tom Dutton and my partner Sherry Baron. I alone am responsible for the opinions and views expressed in this article.

[1] Jackie Shropshire, Henderson Kirland, and Suthith Wickrema participated in both organizations.

[2] Dan Klepal and Cindi Andrews, “Stories of 15 black men killed by police since 1995,” Cincinnati Enquirer, at:

[3] An acquaintance of mine, a longtime civil rights and poverty activist, was pulled out of her car and beaten up. She understood and forgave those who attacked her. Others who were beaten were less charitable.

[4] My wife told me of an African American professional in her workplace explaining these realities of life in Cincinnati to her white coworkers at that time.

[5] Kevin Aldridge and Mark Curnutte, “NAACP leader calls for justice,” at:

[6]Kevin, Aldridge, “Cincinnati CAN: ‘Willingness to shake things up’,” Cincinnati Enquirer,  at:

[7] Kevin Aldridge, “CAN Leaders: Firing Lynch was right call,” Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 5, 2001, at:

[8] Lew Moores, “Peaceful Marchers Cry for Justice,” Cincinnati Enquirer, at:

[9] The meeting between the March for Justice Organizers and the African American ministers actually took place at my home in Clifton shortly after the march. Among those in attendance were Rev. J.W. Jones, Rev. Stephen Scott, Jackie Shropshire, Rev. Land, Rev. Doc Foster, and Rev. Donald Sherman. For Rev. Jones’ biography see: Rev. James W. Jones at Cincinnati Historical Society, While Rev. Jones accepted the idea of an implicit alliance with the gay community, some of the others had been opponents of gay rights.

[10] Lew Moores, “Cincinnati gay-rights appeal already costing conventions,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, [date?], 1993, at:

[11] Allen Howard, “Black group to boycott restaurants, Closings during Coors Light Festival caused ire,”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 2, 2000, at:; James Pilcher, “Restaurant pickets: ‘No truce’, Blacks protesters say they are out to make a point,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 10, 2000, at:

[12] Randy Tucker, “Restaurants to stay open for fests,” The Cincinnati Enquire, June 27, 2001,

[13] The three voted off the board were Mike McCleese, Heidi Burlins-Green, and Roy Ford. All three were active in the March for Justice. See: Doug Trapp, “Stonewall Decides,” CityBeat, Sept. 5, 2002, at:; Clayton C. Knight, “New Fissures Appear in Stonewall,” CityBeat, July 4, 2002, at:

[14] Jonathan Diskin and Thomas A. Dutton, “Cincinnati: A Year Later but No Wiser,”  at:

[15] Issue Paper: Cincinnati Boycott, at:

[16] The Cincinnati Arts Association suit asked for $87,000 in damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. It was thrown out on first amendment grounds but the CAA appealed; organizers countersued the CAA for governmental infringement of their civil rights, since the governing board was largely populated by local city and county officials. The CAA’s appeal and the counter-suit were later settled out of court, but the boycott activists did not agree to stop boycotting or to stop asking performers not to come to Cincinnati. The defendants in the case were Rev. James W. Jones, Amanda Mayes, Linda Newman, Rev. Stephen Scott, Rev. Donald Sherman, Michelle Taylor-Mitchell and “John or Jane Does 1 through 20.” Associated Press, “State judge throws out art agency’s suit against Cincinnati boycotters,” First Amendment Center, at: See also: Maria Rogers, “Right to Boycott,” CityBeat, Jully 25, 2002, at:

[17] I received two death threats in this period, one from a group called Wendepunkt. The same death threat was received by the owner of a gay bar and a Cincinnati judge. The individual responsible was convicted and jailed for his threat on the life of the judge.

[18] Collaborative Agreement, at:

[19]  Sheila McLaughlin and Jane Prendergast, “Police frustration brings slowdown,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 30, 2001, at:

[20] Thomas A. Dutton and Rev. Daman Lynch II, “The National Underground Corporate Center to

Railroad Freedom,” Sept. 26, 2004, at:

[21] “Chiquita Branks International, Wikipedia, at:

[22] Kevin Aldridge, “Boycott demands consolidated,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 8, 2002, at:

[23] Gregory Korte and Dan Horn, “City settles 16 police suits for $4.5 million,” The Cincinnati Enquirer,

[24] All of the reports on the agreement can be found at:

[25] See for example, Gregory Korte, “Deal answers some of boycott demands,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 5, 2002, at:

[26] Gregory Korte, “Lynch to run for City Council,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 20, 2003, at:

[27] Gregory Korte, “Luken focuses on Vine Street,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 11, 2002, at:

Share This Article! | Listen to this article |

Help The Cincinnati Beacon Grow! Participate in Social Networking!


Auto-login on future visits

Show my name in the online users list

Forgot your password?


Tell us what you think!

Anonymous comments are allowed, but you can create an account above to stamp your name and to avoid typing the anti-spam code.

If you are not familiar with our rules for leaving comments, click here! The Cincinnati Beacon is not responsible for the contents of any comments. Comments do not represent the views of the moderators of The Cincinnati Beacon.

  1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Dan, I like how detail oriented and factual this is, since the local media seems to have a revisionist agenda.

  2. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I agree. It is important that our community reflect on what happened, what it means and how it should instruct us moving forward. The only way we can move forward is by taking an honest look at our past and learn from our history.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.