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Crowds - And Deputies - Decrease During Seventh Day Of Protests In Cincinnati

Jay Hanselman
A group protesting the death of George Floyd outside the Hamilton County Courthouse Friday.

The daily demonstrations honoring George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis May 25, continued Friday outside the Hamilton County Courthouse. About 40 to 50 people were there, which is smaller than much of the week.

Otis Williams lives in Cincinnati and he attended for the first time with some co-workers from Camp Joy in Clarksville.

"We can all see firsthand what's happening and what's going on," Williams said. "And they said, 'Let's go,' so that's why we're here."

Williams, who is African American, addressed the crowd about being in a traffic stop with his young son and insisting that his son place his hands on the dashboard, so they could be seen by the police officer. He said he wanted his child to know to be respectful, but to also be on guard to not escalate a situation.

"The rules are different," Williams said. "He's an African American male and life is going to be different for him. It's going to be different."

Skylar Coleman from Madisonville has been involved most of the week. She said the number of deputies has decreased, too.

"There used to be a whole line, multiple lines of police wearing riot shields and helmets and stuff like that," Coleman said. "Right now, there's no one out there."

Cincinnati police have also been making fewer arrests for violating the city's 11 p.m. curfew.  

The police response seems to have shifted since Tuesday after Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac talked with some demonstrators outside the District One building Monday.

Assistant Police Paul Neudigate also spoke with protestors Tuesday outside Cincinnati City Hall and near the courthouse. He said the department would back off curfew enforcement if the protestors obeyed and left peacefully.

paul neudigate protest
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
Cincinnati Assistant Chief of Police Paul Neudigate speaks to protestors at City Hall as demonstrators continue to rally and protest the murder of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Isaac said Friday he's encouraging his officers, especially younger ones, to engage with the protestors.

"That when they get an opportunity, and there's an opportunity to have some conversation, or just to listen to what's being said to them, that they do it," Isaac said.

Isaac said he's hoping things will remain calm this weekend with some larger demonstrations planned in parts of the city.

"I'm hopeful that these demonstrations will remain peaceful and what I've seen over the last several days, I think we have good reason to hope that they will."

A daily vigil behind Music Hall on Central Parkway beside District 1 was expected Friday evening. An organizer at the daily courthouse event said an open mic event and candlelight vigil was planned for Friday at 8 p.m. at Washington Park.

Reports indicate other demonstrations are planned for Saturday and Sunday at the courthouse, City Hall, Fountain Square and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.