Three months after rioting exposed racial fault lines in Cincinnati, the city's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood still smells of burnt wood and melted plastic. Drug dealers whip out stoppered test tubes with what looks like a brown-green leafy filling. Hookers chat in a small group.
Three neighborhood kids, Courtney, Robert, and Ryan, crunch glass from shattered windows as they walk past open trash bins and gutted buildings. They lead a visitor to where Timothy Thomas ran from police before he was shot and killed at about 2 a.m. April 7, a Saturday. Courtney turns into a narrow alley where every street light has been knocked out. At the alley's end, next to what looks like an old outhouse, a spot of blue paint marks the site where a single shot from a white officer's gun killed Thomas, a 19-year-old African-American man.
The fatal shooting has catapulted Damon Lynch III, the evangelical pastor of the nearby New Prospect Baptist Church, to national prominence. Reports of the incident passed like wildfire through the African-American community, still raw over two previous shootings. Lynch, 41, and a large crowd went to police headquarters on the Monday after the shooting and demanded answers. Despite Lynch's pleas, the crowd became unruly. Protests and sporadic conflicts continued into Tuesday.
On Wednesday, April 11, Lynch and other ministers calmed a first wave of protesters, but by evening the city had a riot on its hands. Phil Heimlich, a white, 49-year-old conservative city council member and an evangelical leader in the community, charged the mayor, Charles Luken, a white liberal Democrat, with tying the hands of police. Luken then declared a state of emergency and imposed a citywide curfew. After the arrests of nearly 1,000 ...1
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