© 2021 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

PHOTOS: Weekend Protests Peaceful, With 'Massive' Attendance On Sunday

People continue to take to the streets of Cincinnati to protest the death of black Americans at the hands of police, most recently George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, who would have turned 27 this past Friday, June 5. 

On Friday, we reported how crowds - and the number of deputies - had decreased from earlier in the week. "There used to be a whole line, multiple lines of police wearing riot shields and helmets and stuff like that," demonstrator Skylar Coleman told WVXU's Jay Hanselman. "Right now, there's no one out there."

Friday evening, demonstrators near District 1 wrote a birthday message in chalk to Taylor and laid out candles honoring the victims of police brutality. 

breonna taylor happy birthday
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
Demonstrators draw a happy birthday message with chalk to Breonna Taylor, who would have turned 27 on that day, Friday, June 5, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Tana Weingartner reported how many Downtown businesses began to join in the demonstrations by painting art and messages of support on the plywood installed over their windows and doors. 

george floyd protests cincinnati
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
Sydney Gentry Barth paints a message on plywood protecting Kismet, a woman’s boutique, in the Over-The-Rhine District as downtown businesses have shuttered their storefront windows and doors ahead of this weekend’s planned demonstrations on Friday, June 5.

On Saturday, demonstrations took place through the city, including Fountain Square and Washington Park. At Washington Park, speakers included State Senator Cecil Thomas and Audrey DuBose, the mother of Sam DuBose, who was killed by former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a traffic stop in 2015. 

“When I saw this come together like this, I said, 'My son didn’t die in vain. He did not die in vain,' " DuBose told the crowd. "The fight goes on." 

Over at Fountain Square, the hundreds who had gathered were treated to free food from Latoya Evans, owner of JLT's Catering. 

As the group marched toward the Hamilton County Courthouse, Chief of Police Eliot Isaac came out and shook hands and took photos with protestors for about 20 minutes.

george floyd protests cincinnati
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
Cincinnati’s Chief of Police Eliot Isaac and another officer pose for a photograph with a demonstrator at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Demonstrators also had the opportunity to register to vote

The group observed a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of the video of George Floyd's death, which shows then-officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck as Floyd repeatedly says "I can't breathe." Chauvin now faces charges of second-degree murder.

However, the event ended on a positive note, with some members of the group performing the "Electric Slide." 

On Sunday, Whitman reported seeing the biggest crowd of the weekend yet. The Facebook event page for the "Cincinnati March for Racial Justice" at Fountain Square shows 10,000 people who said they were "going;" Whitman said he heard police estimates of between 5,000 to 7,000 people.

"The most I've seen is maybe 2,000 to 3,000 people at the beginning of the week, but this was just huge," Whitman said. "Everything downtown was packed with people." 

george floyd protests cincinnati
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
A photo taken from the Westin Hotel across the street from Sunday's protest at Fountain Square. An estimated 5,000 or more people gathered Downtown to protest the murder of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Cincinnati.

It's true that the city has come a long way since last Friday, when a number of stores Downtown were looted; a curfew was put in place; and the next day brought police in riot gear

While on Sunday "police presence was everywhere," Whitman said, "I didn't see any riot gear. I didn't see any of the armored personnel carriers." 

In fact, police were handing out masks to any protester who wanted one, Whitman said. "There were a lot of selfies and photos (with police)." 

george floyd protests cincinnati
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
A Cincinnati Police officer hands out free masks to demonstrators during Sunday's protest at Fountain Square on June 7.

The change in tenor could be credited to when Sheriff Jim Neil twice took a knee to show solidarity with demonstrators on Monday, June 1. "And right after that the assistant chief of police jumped a barricade to talk with protesters. I think people started to see that the dialogue was open." 

paul neudigate jim neil
Credit Jason Whitman / WVXU
Cincinnati Assistant Chief of Police Paul Neudigate (left) speaks to protestors at City Hall on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Cincinnati. A day earlier, Sheriff Jim Neil twice took a knee to show solidarity with those demonstrating.

More demonstrations are planned, including one every Monday at 1 p.m. at the courthouse and another every weekday at 6 p.m. at the police memorial near District 1.