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Cincinnati Mayor Luken Mandates City-Wide Curfew

Aired April 12, 2001 - 10:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, now we want to take you live to Cincinnati, Ohio. That is the mayor of Cincinnati is speaking. Let's listen in.

MAYOR CHARLES LUKEN, CINCINNATI: I want to thank all of you for being here, in particularly all the people of good will who we have worked for the last several days, trying to quell the disturbances that now plague our city.

I appear before you this morning with a very heavy and sad heart, because despite the best efforts of people of good will in our city, violence on our streets is uncontrolled and it runs rampant. Community leaders have done their best and I thank them for trying to bring peace to our streets. But, the time has come for us to enact serious measures to deal with and to quell the violence on Cincinnati's streets.

The message -- the single message, the only message that we want to communicate to the citizens of this city, is that the violence must stop. And the violence will stop. This city has a history of being safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ready! Are you ready?

LUKEN: A family. This is the kind of thing that our citizens are putting up with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was never a set-up. The mayor is a liar. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) There is a list of the man from the people.

LUKEN: This is the kind of lack of civility that is plaguing our community.

I want to make one other point and tell us specifically what we are going to do. There are two issues here. There are two issues here: there is a very legitimate and real problem with race relations and how this city is going to heal itself in the large context. And we have had meetings over the last several days, particularly the last several days on that issue.

There is a second issue, and today, that is the issue that we focus on. That is the issue of the violence on Cincinnati's streets. Today, I separate those issues. They are unrelated to me. The only issue that we are focused on today is getting the criminal element off our streets. At 10:30 -- 10:27 actually this morning, I signed a document declaring a state of emergency in the city of Cincinnati.

Shortly thereafter, a couple of minutes thereafter, the city manager of the city of Cincinnati signed a document implementing a curfew, city-wide curfew in the city of Cincinnati. It begins at 8:00 tonight; it runs until 6:00 in the morning, and it's is of indefinite duration. We don't like the fact that we have to declare the curfew in our city. We know that the law-abiding citizens of Cincinnati for 99.9 percent of our citizens, a curfew is unnecessary.

We ask the citizens of our community to bear with us. We ask the citizens our community to -- to just give that one message today. And it must stop, and it will stop. And finally are we asked the citizens of our community, as we approach this holy weekend, to pray for our city.

This has happened in a town of good will, of good people. We cannot tolerate the lawlessness anymore. And we ask for the prayers of every Cincinnatian and every person of good will in our community. The members of city council are here. We have some folks from the community in the room, the city manager.

John, why don't you come up here, if you would? And we will take your questions at this point.

QUESTION: Mayor, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to ask for the national (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

LUKEN: We are in consultation with the National Guard. It certainly remains an option, but we have not finalized those plans.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the phase II mobilization?

LUKEN: The phase II mobilization is simply us ratcheting up our response to the activities in the streets and it's a strategic police issue, but I am not going go into great detail about all of the strategic moves our police division will make, other than to say that we have a police force of about 1,030 officers, most of whom are working 12-hour shifts. That situation cannot go on much longer...

QUESTION: Can you explain about the curfew?

LUKEN: ...when the question was asked about the National Guard, one of the reasons -- big reason that is being considered is that our officers need relief.

QUESTION: But it also means that you augment police in Cincinnati with police of ...?

LUKEN: We are in discussions and I don't know where the police chief is. Where is the police chief? Where is the police chief?

QUESTION: I have a question back here. Can you explain the city-wide curfew? Who does that affect?

LUKEN: It's actually very simple. It affects everybody in the city of Cincinnati, all ages. It affects every neighborhood in the city of Cincinnati. It is from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. It's really that simple. We -- the chief's indicated that the people coming to and from work, will not be disturbed. But beyond that, it is an order of this city to clear the streets at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

QUESTION: Charlie, can you tell us about the traffic...?

LUKEN: Correct.

QUESTION: What about the religious services? This is only Thursday. After Friday, tomorrow, and how will the curfew be affected?

LUKEN: The order, Jon, is very simple, and I can't elaborate on that anymore. It's 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., except if you are going to and from your work. That's the extent of the exception in the city.

Look, I have already mentioned as a holy week. We understand it in the holy week. We asked those citizens whose service who may be interrupted to stay in their homes and pray for their city, which is very much at risk right now.

QUESTION: Charlie, the sheriff's department or (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

LUKEN: We are in contact with the sheriff's department and we have mutual-aid packs. And it may be that we will see officers from other jurisdictions augmenting Cincinnati police. But that is still under discussion. And the state police.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...whether or not to ask the governor to activate the Guard?

LUKEN: We are in active conversation with the governor right now. What will decide this, real simple, real simple: what happens today.

QUESTION: I have a question back here. A little clarification. You said, all of the events. There are concerts scheduled, those will be canceled?

LUKEN: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: By who?

LUKEN: By order of the Cincinnati Police Division and the city of Cincinnati.

QUESTION: And you'll be notifying the businesses.

LUKEN: That's correct.

QUESTION: OK.

LUKEN: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been telling you for two years about the police brutality! And we told you personally for two years to stop the police brutality! And you haven't stopped it! The only way to stop it is when the brutality stops!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going out of here! (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then it's all right. You know that I am going out! (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and then to go to jail. And...

QUESTION: I know there have been meetings on the long-term decisions. Can you talk to us about...

LUKEN: Yes, there have been productive discussions between the business leaders at the highest level of this community and community activists. And they are coming together around a more long-term agenda for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to receive (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of it in your record! (UNINTELLIGIBLE)!

LUKEN: These are the same people -- these are the same people, ladies and gentlemen, that appear at city council every week. It doesn't make much difference to them what the facts are. They continue to engage in this kind of behavior.

QUESTION: What happened this morning in the neighborhoods? Did you get a reading on that?

LUKEN: Well, I am not the -- again, I hope that the chief would be with us today, but -- and he will -- he will speak to us as soon as he gets here, I hope. But he can give you better assessments. Suffice to say, there are places where it seems to be building this morning.

QUESTION: Do you think that bringing the National Guard in will increase (OFF-MIKE) in the streets? And decreased by getting tired officers off of the street?

LUKEN: I think that we don't have a choice. I think that the citizens are tired. Black citizens are tired. They are scared in their homes. White citizens are tired. They are targeted in their cars. I think that they are tired of it. I think that they are scared of it.

And I think that we have got to exercise unprecedented -- and a week ago, unthinkable measures to protect those citizens and to protect our police officers.

Ladies and gentlemen, a police officer was shot last night. And because of his safety vest or his belt buckle, he is alive today. That's where we are. Certain neighborhoods of this city, gunfire went off; gunfire went off like you might hear in Beirut or some other place.

It is dangerous. And it is getting more dangerous. And people have got to speak with one mind, with one mind, clearly that it's going to stop. And that is the extent of the message that we have today. That's it.

QUESTION: Mayor, how did you settle on the 8:00 curfew time, opposed to, say, an earlier time.

LUKEN: We take the recommendation of the safety of the people on that, John. And there was talk about 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00. And we settled on 8:00, so that people can get home. And there was some talk that it might be better to be earlier. I want to mention...

QUESTION: Do you have any dollar figures on either...?

LUKEN: No.

QUESTION: ...losses or the costs?

LUKEN: No, I do not. I do not.

QUESTION: How are the police going to handle telling you about that?

LUKEN: Well, they are being alerted now. So, the deployed time would be 12-24 hours or thereabouts.

QUESTION: How are they going to tell the people on the streets about the curfew? Are they just going to say...

LUKEN: We ever announcing it today, and we'll get it out by every media vehicle that we possibly can, and suffice it to say that the police on the street will be telling people about it tonight and enforcing it this evening.

QUESTION: Mayor Luken, (OFF-MIKE) out of the store. I was quite surprised. Within that crowd, I didn't see very few old faces. I saw young faces. Young people who were upset about what's going on in our city. They're confused as we are, why? We've been hearing this in the City Hall for months now. Police brutality. And when we will do something about it? The police go to court, they walk out.

Young people, not 18-22, all protesting, saying gestures, no peace. How do we get to the young people? How do we tell them, hey, we are working on it? We are trying to do something about it? When they see it, it's all in a shell around us.

LUKEN: Look, we have -- we have consistently said that we understand the anger and frustration that people feel as a result of the incident Saturday night, and the other incidents that we have had in our community.

And we -- this council, almost daily, has tried to deal with those issues. But I am telling you today, that for purposes of today, without regard to what anger and frustration any citizen might be feeling of what happened, it is necessary for the safety of our children, for the safety of our neighborhoods, and for the safety of our police department to knock it off. And knock it off now. And it's just that simple.

I thank you.

QUESTION: Mayor, can we get the chief?

LUKEN: Yes, chief. They are asking some logistic questions that I can't...

STOUFFER: All right, you have been listening to a live press conference out of Cincinnati, Ohio. A tense press conference ask a tense situation. The mayor of Cincinnati, Charles Luken, declaring the state of emergency in the city of Cincinnati. And as of tonight, implementing a city-wide curfew, 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Starts tonight and goes on indefinitely.

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