What Kind of Crackdown?

The Cincinnati Police Department has been noticeably more aggressive in Over-the-Rhine in the past month, with 1,000 arrests reported so far to date. At a recent press conference the police announced about 20 guns had been seized. While that’s progress, we want to know about the hundreds of misdemeanor arrests involved. We’re hearing reports that many of the 1,000 arrests have been for such trivial offenses as littering, jaywalking, even spitting — hardly the kind of crime that has made Cincinnati so violent in recent years. Brian Garry uses the term “ethnic cleansing,” arguing that what’s really underway is an effort to push poor people out of the neighborhood to make way for upper-income tenants in proposed new condos. The arrest of Berta Lambert, a Streetvibes vendor and photographer, certainly doesn’t speak to a crackdown on violence; Berta is a gentle soul who loves Over-the-Rhine.

In the next few weeks CityBeat will have a detailed report on exactly what kind of crackdown the police are conducting. We’re waiting on the police department to turn over the raw data. We’ve asked for copies of every arrest report in Over-the-Rhine since April 10. We’re told the process of redacting social security numbers means a delay of about two weeks.
— Gregory Flannery

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7 Comments on “What Kind of Crackdown?”

  1. Dave Gallaher Says:

    To say that Berta Lambert is a gentle soul is an understatement. I have the honor of being introduced to him by Mack McCrackin. By the way, I’m pleased to see he’s already released and “back on the streets.” I saw him selling StreetVibes, wearing a huge sombrero, just last Saturday eve, up on Ludlow. (To increase sales, he had one of his “Impeach Bush” signs behind him.)

    Police statistics are the textbook case of GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out. So, don’t get your hopes up.

    The story by Kevin Osborne with the illustration of Mayor Mallory as a sheriff, and the story by Margo Pierce with a photo of Police Chief Streicher, show a unity of so-called thought (even at CityBeat) about how to stop violence: namely, put a lid on it.

    There are two factors increasing the pressure that causes violence in our fair Queen City:
    1. The lid.
    2. The heat of the burner.

    Let’s first turn off the burner:
    Stop the War on Drugs.
    Stop any harassment from vice laws that were intended, from the start, to be “make-work” programs for police and sheriff’s deputies.

  2. Michael Says:

    It’s too bad that it will take 2 weeks, but it’s encouraging that the police will hand over these records. Myself, I’m conflicted about the over-the-Rhine crackdown. On the one hand, the people that live in OTR deserve a safe neighborhood, and increasing the police presence can help to make law-abiding citizens feel safer. On the other hand, imagine if Cincinnati police decended on a white neighborhood like Mount Healthy and started arresting hundreds of people for jay-walking! That this could only be done in a primarily black neighborhood raises the specter of race-based harrassment. The fact that this crackdown only began when two “students from the suburbs” — read that as “white kids” — got shot in OTR also lends credence to the idea that race is a major factor in this crackdown.

    Police should bring a heavy presence in the area, and should strongly enforce weapons violations, outstanding warrants, etc. But they should give people there the same respect they would give in any other neighborhood. I hope that’s what they are doing.

  3. Joe Says:

    Michael, you seem to forget that 67% of those arrested/cited in OTR aren’t even from the neighborhood. I’d hope that police would be just as aggressive if people from all over the metro area descended on my neighborhood, Westwood, to spit on the sidewalk and jaywalk.

  4. dave gallaher Says:

    Give up on trying to fine-tune police.
    Police are lids… lids on pressure cookers… not rocket science… lids are not fine-tunable.
    Why is it so hard for you to think in terms of turning off the burner?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    We’ve heard again and again how the citys image is tainted by the crime rate in otr..Imagine if there were no drugs,prostitution or jaywalking(lol seriously)then the city would find another way to force people from there homes so it could build (renovate) in the area so that more professionals(yuppies) could move closer to downtown and “Stimulate” the economy..It’s all about money and the only way it can be disguised is by blaming the poor who survive the only way they have been taught..belive it or not.Doesn’t change the truth.

  6. David Gallaher Says:

    8:46 PM anonymous,
    You are correct: It’s all about money.

    With regard to forcing people from their homes, what else would you expect from government?

    What do you propose?

    Agreed, it doesn’t seem fair at all that government would both
    1. force folks from their homes.
    2. use taxpayer money to speculate in real estate.
    That’s a conflict of interest.

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