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Bob Franken: Cincinnati officials take chance, ease curfew

 

CNN National Correspondent Bob Franken has been in Cincinnati, Ohio, where outrage over the shooting death of an unarmed African-American man by a white police officer has led to violent protest, looting and overnight curfews for three nights in a row.

Q: How and when is the U.S. Department of Justice getting involved in this case?

Franken: They're already involved. As a matter of fact there was an incident following the funeral of Timothy Thomas, who was buried yesterday. He was the young African-American man who was shot unarmed by a white Cincinnati policeman last Saturday, which caused the violence to erupt. After that funeral was over, people were leaving and they said police, unprovoked, swooped down on them and started firing bean bag pellets at them, which are designed to intimidate and hurt people without really doing anything lethal. The FBI is going to take a look at that incident and, in fact, is investigating, and doing a preliminary investigation, to see if there's a persistent pattern of civil rights violations in the Cincinnati Police Department, which is alleged by community relations groups.

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Q: Has the mood of the area changed because of the lessened unrest and the mayor's apology to the Thomas family?

Franken: Well, it's hard to tell if the mood has changed. There's been no violence in the last couple of days of any consequence because of the fact that there's been a curfew and now we have rain in the city and so that seems to have made things a little bit quiet, too. But city officials are going to take a chance, they say, and are going to reduce the curfew. It won't begin at 8 p.m. tonight. It will begin at 11 p.m. And what they're hoping to do, is that by Tuesday, they're hoping to do away with the curfew. But the mood is very angry in this town. It's a very tense city right now, and they're just hoping that the tension doesn't once again erupt into violence.

Q: What effect, if any, will today's Easter holiday have on protests, demonstrations and encounters with police? Are any special rallies being held?

Franken: Well, (New York civil rights activist) Al Sharpton is in town and there's some talk that he might hold a rally. But the fact of the matter is that it's raining here and there's nothing that dampens the fervor of protest like rain. So the weather is cooperating with the officials who are sort of hoping that this violence can subside.



RELATED STORIES:
Cincinnati mayor pledges to 'embrace justice'
April 14, 2001
Cincinnati under curfew on eve of funeral for man slain by police
April 13, 2001
FBI looking into Cincinnati police shooting
April 12, 2001
Cincinnati mayor declares state of emergency
April 11, 2001
Protesters loot, set fires in Cincinnati
April 10, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Cincinnati Police Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

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