Cincinnati lifts curfew
Mayor outlines plan to address stormy race relations
CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) -- Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken outlined a four-point plan on Monday to heal his racially troubled city, which erupted into violence in the wake of the police shooting of an unarmed black man more than a week ago.
Luken said a curfew put in place to curb the violence had been lifted after a relatively calm weekend.
The state of emergency that Luken declared at the same time he set up the curfew will continue, the mayor said, "only as a vehicle if we would need to move back in that direction, but I see no reason that we should have to do that."
Lifting the curfew brought a sigh of relief from many businesses in Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati Reds professional baseball team, which faced rescheduling games beginning on Tuesday.
"We have been a community in crisis," Luken said, standing with elected officials and community and business leaders at a City Hall news conference. "It's time for leaders to step forward. And that is happening."
The April 7 death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, the 15th African-American man to die since 1995 while being pursued or in the custody of Cincinnati police, fueled flames of resentment among many in the riverside city's African-American community.
The protests began on April 9, and quickly turned violent. Luken imposed a strict 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Thursday, and the violence abated. The start time of the restrictions was rolled back to 11 p.m. on Sunday to allow observers of Easter Sunday more time to spend with their families.
On Monday, Luken said Cincinnati now had a "historic opportunity" to evoke real change and pledged the commitment of city officials to accomplish that goal.
His four-point plan included an end to all "inappropriate police violence" and changing the city charter to allow nationwide recruitment of top law enforcement officials.
The mayor also announced the establishment of a commission to study the state of race relations in the city, giving the commission the power to implement their recommendations.
Thomas, who had 14 outstanding warrants against him for misdemeanors, was shot and killed while fleeing from Officer Steve Roach down a dark alley. Roach, who has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident, said he believed the young man had been reaching for a weapon when he shot him once in the chest.
More than 700 people have been arrested since the protests over Thomas' death broke out. The protests turned violent, degenerating into pitched battles between police and demonstrators, who set fires, broke windows and threw rocks and bottles.
At Thomas' funeral on Saturday, Mayor Luken apologized to Thomas' family and friends, and said he hoped the service would prove to be "a catalyst for a new Cincinnati ... that seriously embraces justice."
But another investigation was launched shortly after Luken pledged that Cincinnati would one day be a better city -- a Louisville, Kentucky, schoolteacher was hit by beanbag projectiles fired into a crowd of peaceful protesters by Cincinnati police.
Witnesses said a police cruiser stopped a few blocks from the church where the funeral was held, and five officers jumped out, firing on the gathered crowd without warning before jumping back into their car and speeding away.
Christine Jones, who is white, was hospitalized, and four others were hit by the beanbag ammunition.
"The police gave us no warning, no orders to stop or disperse," Jones told the Reuter News Agency. "They just started shooting."
Before the funeral, Luken and Police Chief Thomas Streicher had said police would maintain a very low profile near the church out of respect for Thomas' family.
Investigations under way
A grand jury investigation is being launched into Thomas' death, and the FBI and U.S. Justice Department have also started investigations. African-American leaders have asked for a close look at the police department and its dealings with the black community.
In the 15 cases of African-American men killed while in custody or being pursued by police, nine of the officers involved have been exonerated. Four others are still under investigation.
In another case, an officer was disciplined with a written reprimand and had to undergo 40 hours of training. The last officer was one of four Cincinnati police officers killed in the line of duty since 1995. He died after being dragged by a car driven by a 12-year-old boy, but shot and killed the boy before his own death.
CNN Correspondent Bob Franken contributed to this report.
Easter calm in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Police Division
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