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Speeches by Cincinnati Locals Fire Up the March for Justice

JUN. 2 - A terraced corporate plaza hosts a large crowd of mixed-race, intergenerational protestors. Surrounded by moderately high office buildings the plaza gradually fills with relaxed people socializing and setting up literature tables in the intermittent rain.

A fixed concrete balcony holds a few march organizers, one of which gets on the loudspeaker to encourage people to mix and introduce themselves to any five people they haven't met before.

Many pre-printed March for Justice signs are accompanied by others, printed and handmade, which say "No Justice, No Peace," "Fight Racism and Police Brutality" and "Jewish Action Network." One black man, among others, wears a white t-shirt with a crosshairs target on the back saying "Official Cincinnati Police Target." On the front is an icon of the scales of justice with a red slash through it and the words "No Justice, No Peace."

A local teenage drum corps kicks into a beat and makes its way onto the stage, accompanied by teenage black girls in white cheerleading outfits and blue cowboy hats. They dance in high-step style to the beat put out by bass drums and snares. One drummer, a tiny boy no more than 3 years old, whips his drumsticks against the bottom of a plastic bucket. The sticks are longer than his torso but he doesn't miss a beat.

A number of speakers take turns speaking to the assembled crowd, noting some points in common: That there is no equality of economic opportunity for blacks in Cincinnati as compared to whites. Many mention that the rich citizens are getting richer as a result of political priorities in the Ohio area. Rev. Jones notes that 47% of African-Americans in Cincinnati are below the poverty line and the median income of the city is only $10,000 per year. Half of the minority households do not have a vehicle to aid in their job searches, or in commuting to their jobs. He notes that Cincinnati is the eighth most segregated city in the United States.

"Hamilton County cooperated with the federal government to create empowerment zones for the city's minority communities. While much effort has been put into this strategy, not one of the promised 10,000 jobs has resulted in employment," says Rev. Jones.

An organizer for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee spoke of the situation of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States. He points to the growing element of Mexican and Guatemalan, Spanish-speaking workers, used in places like South Carolina to harvest tobacco and sweet potatoes. While the US Department of Labor has instituted programs to enable use of foreign labor he claims there is no oversight to prevent abuses of immigrant labor.

"God uses people like yourselves to avenge their deaths. We must stand up in righteousness." The audience applauds. "I have lost track of the number of times I have been arrested," he says. "But for all the police and state marshalls who have arrested me, not one of them has admitted that it's for equality or justice."

"When youth like Timothy Thomas or [immigrant laborer] Ramundo Hernandez are lost to us, we do not know if they would have grown to become the next famous teacher, or scientist, or curer of AIDS. We are denying them their gifts. They become a lost link on the chain to bring people together."

One person in the crowd, Adrian Carsiotis of the DC Greens, comments on the media's portrayal of the planned march. "All of the TV stations, channel 12, channel 9 and others, were showing clips of the rebellions [from April], as if those are related to the march today. We are here to stop the riots. The cops don't want riots either. It's all media hype."

Angela Leisure, mother of Timothy Thomas, rises to address the audience. "I'd like to thank everyone for coming out today. People should come together to stand up for what is right. Murder is not right. We can bring life into the world, but only He should be able to take life away. These deaths cause a chain reaction. They tear down families and they tear down the structure of the heart. My son was the center of my life. Others who have been killed were the centers of other people's lives. When my son was killed I lost 49 minutes of my life. I stared at the clock for 49 minutes because I could not believe that my son was dead."




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