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Cincinnati Update: Pre-March Machinations

Just a few minutes ago, looking at a map of downtown Cincinatti in the IMC ready room, we began to understand the kind of environment we had landed in.
Cincinatti, OH 06/02/2001 - Cincinatti, Ohio
Friday, June 1, 2001

Just a few minutes ago, looking at a map of downtown Cincinatti in the IMC ready room, we began to understand the kind of environment we had landed in.

The route for tomorrow morning's parade, scheduled to leave Fountain Square at 11 am, will actually go by the spot on 13th Street where unarmed, 19 year-old Timothy Thomas was shot and killed by a police officer two months ago, sparking riots and a citywide curfew.

The surprise was that our walk tonight, from our host's activist crash pad to the art command poster design center, had taken us by that very spot. In fact, it was just about there that one of the local residents had welcomed us to Over the Rhine--this downtown neighborhood that was the center of activity here after the April 7 murder of Thomas--by lobbing a mostly-empty bottle of malt-liquor in our direction. Lest we had any illusions about our new surroundings, he served notice--this was a serious neighborhood.

We'll find out in the morning just how serious things are here, but if early signs are a good indication then the stories are true, and the civic tensions here in this beautiful midwestern metropolis of 1/3 million people are a lot more on edge than back home in DC.

Painting signs out back (keep a look out for these efforts among others: "Cops shoot blacks, then go free, we call this Democracy?", "Kops and Klan, Hand in Hand," "Defiance Against Racist Enforcers (D.A.R.E.) and "No War But Class War") I start to wonder if the prospects for genuine conflict are not more likely than I had anticipated, and contemplate where gas masks might be available in the morning. . .

We'll know soon. Reports are that 3 to 5 thousand peaceful marchers are expected for the Saturday event that will wind up in Laurel Park, where it will join an annual celebration known locally and affectionately as Mac Day--named for long-time local activist Rev. Maurice McCrackin. Featuring music, speakers, an art show, videos, free vegan food and generally positive vibes, I think our entire band of mobile DC activists likes the idea of saluting a man who, when faced with the bible quotation from Amos, "let Justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream," answered with, "It is up to us to work out the irrigation system." Word.

And then there are the reports of potential in-your-face actions Reclaiming The Suburbs tomorrow evening, which may satisfy the direction action fans among us.

Until then, we're just happy to have made the 8 1/2 hour journey in only 12 hours, and only having to push-start the magic Ripleymobile 3 or 4 times. But Route 50 through West Virginia is, in fact, a gorgeous alternative to Interstate monotony. Details to follow tomorrow evening. Stay tuned, amigos.



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