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A Review Of 2001's Civil Unrest With Reporters Who Were There

2001 civil unrest
Tom Uhlman
Cincinnati police point riot guns at demonstrators, Tuesday, April 10, 2001, in Cincinnati. Police fired bean bags and rubber bullets to quell demonstrators who broke windows downtown Tuesday in a protest over the police shooting of Timothy Thomas.

April 7, 2021, marked 20 years since white Officer Steven Roach shot and killed Black 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Over-the-Rhine. The shooting, along with 14 other killings of Black males at the hands of police from 1995 to 2001, led to nearly a week of unrest in Cincinnati. The protests, lootings and chaos garnered national media attention.

Reporting for WCPO, Jenell Walton interviewed NAACP President Kweisi Mfume as he toured the damaged area of Over-the-Rhine's Vine Street business district during the unrest. Her coverage earned her an Emmy nomination.

WDBZ the Buzz had only been on the air for about a year when the protests broke out. Host Lincoln Ware described events live from the scene, calling into the radio station as he watched people break out windows at Deveroes.  

Renowned photographer Melvin Grier, working for the Cincinnati Post, captured the emotion of 2001 in pictures. In one image, a woman drags a young boy past a line of mounted officers. The caption reads: "During the 2001 rioting in Cincinnati, this boy walked over to taunt the mounted police officers. This woman came onto the scene and guided the boy away from possible trouble."

There have been many echoes of 2001 in Cincinnati and around the nation in the years since. In 2016, the murder trial of former UC police officer Ray Tensing, charged in the death of Black motorist Sam DuBois brought back painful memories for many of Thomas' killing. Cincinnati Enquirer Director of Photography Cara Owsley covered the trial. Then in 2020, as the nation protested the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police, Owsley covered the mass demonstrations in Cincinnati, nearly 20 years after the 2001 civil unrest.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss their coverage of the 2001 civil unrest and this summer's protest movement are host of The Lincoln Ware Show on WDBZ Lincoln Ware; Cincinnati Public Radio Vice President of Content Jenell Walton; Photographer and Former Cincinnati Post Photographer Melvin Grier; and Cincinnati Enquirer Director of Photography Cara Owsley.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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