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Cincinnati Update: Ongoing Struggle for Justice Advocated at Cincinnati Teach-In

Locals like Reggie Boyd give details on how the Cincinnati struggle is linked to larger issues.
JUN. 1 - About 80 people gathered at the New Prospect Baptist Church in Cincinnati to discuss the issues around the March for Justice planned for tomorrow. The march and associated actions have been in the planning stages since the killing of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas by Cincinnati Police Department officer Steven Roach.

Reggie Boyd spoke first to the group, giving the half-Cincinnatian, half-outsider crowd the lowdown on the social dynamics of the city. Reggie, 50-ish, is a fourth-generation, lifelong resident who has been involved in community development since 1953. Starting with a historical backdrop, he mentions that Cincinnati had the second-largest chapter of Marcus Garvey's nationwide organization in the '20s.

He stresses that tomorrow's march is not simply about stopping police brutality, but that it is part of a long-term, inclusive struggle against the forces of a bigger framework. He notes that 30 or 40 years ago the struggle on the left was not as informed as it is today.

"We did not have enough of an understanding of struggle. We were able to stop the Vietnam War and we won civil rights legislation, but in the meantime the system rearranged itself. Others were calling to stop imperialism, but the masses didn't really understand what that meant. Leaders like Lowry and King built coalitions with [President] Kennedy which turned out to be as detrimental as aligning with the KKK."

Reggie points to the development of cultural analysis and coalition-building and mentions Stokely Carmichael, a '60s Black Power activist.

"We had to change our paradigms of thinking. We could not longer gloss over [underlying] issues or look for quick solutions. We found our sloganeering was not very well defined. How do you define 'equality'? How do you define 'justice'?"

The Center for Advocacy has identified that 28 corporations in the city have a combined revenue of $20 billion. He notes that there is no shortage of money in the county, that the issue is one of priorities. While the city's yearly budget is $1.9 billion, half of African-Americans here are unemployed. The infant mortality rate is 400% that of the national average.

While a major pediatrics center was built in the church's neighborhood, the local residents have been called "extortionists" for suggesting that the pediatrics center should provide services to the area's residents. It was built with $156 million of private money. Reggie characterizes the city's corporate-led economics as "strangling" the community. While Cincinnati used to be listed as one of the nation's top 50 cities, it now has dropped off the list. On the last US Census it lost 9% of its population.

Reggie notes that when the United States was recently ejected from the UN Human Rights Commission, China pointed to the riot, or rebellion, in Cincinnati, as a reason for their voting the US out of the commission. One city councilman who raised the issue was dismissed, allegedly for comparing conditions in the city to third-world conditions, like in Sudan.

"The people here are poor as a result of disinvestment. Tax dollars do not go to our needs. Half a billion dollars was spent on two losing [sports] teams. We now have the worst record in baseball history. Police brutality is the least of our problems. People are dying every day -- their dreams are dying. But people become numb, like in concentration camps. They get used to the dying. No one should live as we do here."

Calling the city's businesspeople "oligarchs" Reggie says that they will stay in power by any means possible. The future of the city, he claims, will require a spiritual rebirth to renew pride in ethical relationships that exploit no one.

"The Matrix [movie] is prophetic," he says. "We need people to stop sleeping -- we need to wake people up, one-by-one-by-one. I have spent 47 years of my life waking people up, and I will die doing it."



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