Street violence resumes in protest over police shooting of unarmed man
CINCINNATI (AP) – Police fired bean bags, rubber bullets and tear gas at people who broke windows and looted stores Tuesday during the second day of protests over the police shooting of an unarmed black man.
As night fell, groups of roving youths ran throught the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where police reported scattered looting, fires and attacks in which bricks were thrown into cars and the drivers assaulted.
At least 20 people were arrested on charges that included rioting and disorderly conduct, police Lt. Ray Ruberg said.
Tuesday afternoon, police formed protective cordons around City Hall and nearby police headquarters as roughly 50 people threw rocks and bottles at windows and a sidewalk vendor’s stand was ransacked.
The violence increased at night, when paramedics took about 25 people to hospitals and treated another 40 at the scene, Ruberg said. The injured included people hurt in the attacks and by bean bags or rubber bullets.
Some clergy members said they wanted to go out on the streets and urge a stop to the violence, but police said it was too dangerous.
Mayor Charles Luken appealed for calm during a Tuesday evening news conference inside City Hall, where police in riot gear guarded the front door. He called for a public dialogue to replace violence.
”If we can’t do that, then I’m not optimistic that the future will be that much better than the past,” Luken said.
The confrontations came four days after Timothy Thomas, 19, was fatally shot as he ran from a police officer trying to arrest him on 14 warrants. Thomas, of Cincinnati, had been wanted for misdemeanors and traffic violations, including driving without a license and failing to wear a seat belt.
The FBI on Tuesday opened a civil rights investigation and will forward its findings to the Justice Department, said FBI spokesman Ed Boldt. He said a ruling is not expected for months.
Prosecutor Michael Allen said a Hamilton County grand jury might also investigate the shooting, which came as tensions were already high between police and many blacks. Four black men have been killed by officers since November.
On Monday, police also fired bean bags as about 800 demonstrators gathered downtown. Some of them disrupted a City Council committee meeting.
”We tried to keep the situation from escalating any more,” Lt. Col. Ron Twitty said.
Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. offered condolences to Thomas’ family at a news conference Monday. He declined to say what prompted Officer Steve Roach to shoot.
Police union president Keith Fangman said he had spoken with Roach and was confident the officer thought Thomas had a gun and feared for his life when he confronted the man.
Roach is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after police shootings.
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