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North American Example: The 2001 Cincinnati Riot and a Subsequent Peacemaking Initiative (From Rioting in the UK and France: A Comparative Analysis, P 203-215, 2009, David Waddington, Fabien Jobard, and Mike King, eds. - See NCJ-229457)

NCJ Number
David Waddington
Date Published
13 pages
This chapter examines the nature and underlying causes of the Cincinnati (Ohio) riot of 2001, the most notable riot to have occurred in the United States since the new millennium began.
The 2001 Cincinnati riot was triggered by the fatal shooting of a Black male (Timothy Thomas) by a police officer. This killing was preceded by decades of alleged abuse and discrimination by the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) toward the city's Over-the-Rhine community and other highly segregated, socioeconomically disadvantaged cities, as well as other highly segregated Black communities. The onset of heavy job losses in these communities due to the city's gradual decline in its manufacturing base in the 1990s was accompanied by the withdrawal of funding for youth employment projects. One symptom of the resulting poverty was an increase in drug-related arrests in the affected communities. The increased police presence and drug enforcement interventions increased tensions between residents and the police. Against this background, the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Cincinnati Black United Front (BUF) filed a class action lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It alleged systematic discrimination by the CPD. Scarcely a month before the Cincinnati riot, the ACLU/BUF class action suit was placed before a U.S. District Judge. All parties agreed to abandon litigation in favor of collaboration. Negotiations toward a settlement featured police-community problem-oriented cooperation. Despite a promising beginning, however, there were signs that police obstructionism and weak commitment to the collaboration resulted in apathy and demoralization among community residents. The inception of Operation Vortex (zero tolerance toward street crime) marked the end of police-community collaboration, and the killing of Timothy Thomas was the spark that set the fire that turned pent-up anger and frustration into a large-scale riot.