Boycott on despite profiling agreement

April 4, 2002 at 3:28 PM
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CINCINNATI, April 4 (UPI) -- The Cincinnati Black United Front has approved a proposed settlement of a lawsuit accusing the city of a 30-year pattern of racial profiling, but that doesn't mean an end to a nearly yearlong boycott that has cost the Queen City millions.

Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and Wynton Marsalis are among the African-American entertainers who canceled performances at the request of black leaders seeking to punish the city of 331,000 -- one of the nation's 10 most segregated cities -- over the treatment of minorities.

Black United Front leaders told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the settlement and the boycott are separate issues.

"We're looking forward to being part of history here in Cincinnati and moving forward," said activist minister Rev. Damon Lynch III. Lynch, the head of the Black United Front, after the group unanimously accepted the 60-page tentative settlement. "We look forward to other parties signing on to the agreement."

Lynch said settlement of the lawsuit would be interpreted as an "act of good faith" by boycott groups, but added that would only open the way for negotiations on "more substantive issues."

The mostly white Fraternal Order of Police is scheduled to vote on the settlement Saturday and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the Black United Front, will vote Monday.

The historic agreement has the support of Mayor Charlie Luken, who acknowledges the need for reform on the police department after the deaths of 15 black men in police custody since 1995.

The fatal shooting of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas last April 7 by officer Stephen Roach triggered three nights of racial rioting, a dusk-to-dawn curfew and a state of emergency.

"It's a very good settlement," Luken said after reviewing the proposal reached at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. "It's just what we've all been waiting for. It gets the Fraternal Order of Police on the same page as the Black United Front."

Luken Wednesday announced "The Cincinnati Plan" for community policing focusing on citizen involvement and neighborhood outreach by law enforcement to improve community relations. The initiative -- which includes youth street workers and an unofficial juvenile court for first and minor offenders -- was developed over 10 months by police, African-American ministers and community leaders.

While the proposed settlement does not include a finding by the Justice Department that police had a pattern of racial profiling and harassment against blacks, the agreement would create an independent citizen complaint board and a third-party monitor to oversee the department for five-years.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen has rejected any blanket amnesty for last year's rioters and curfew violators despite calls by the Baptist Ministers conference and black religious and community organizations.

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