Following a largely peaceful protest Friday night that devolved into broken windows, graffiti and looting, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley on Saturday issued a 10 p.m. curfew for the entirety of Downtown Cincinnati that will remain in effect through Sunday night.
Cranley said between 11:30 p.m. and 3 a.m., "a small group of people" broke windows and stole from businesses. Eleven arrests were made and two officers sustained minor injuries. Both remain on duty.
The protest of what Cranley said was between 200 to 250 people was in honor of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis who died earlier this week while being arrested by police. The offending officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, has since been fired and is now facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Cranley called the Friday night violence "a distraction from what is a more important moral issue."
"The people who engaged in criminal activity last night were not a part of the protests," Cranley said, a point he emphasized throughout the news conference. "There has always been a conflation between people who are exercising First Amendment rights and people who take advantage and exploit that opportunity to take place in criminal behavior."
Police Chief Eliot Isaac later added that he believed the people who engaged in the activity were not from Cincinnati but declined to share what information he had to support that.
"It is not uncommon for people to come from other places to protest," he said, adding that he does not have any information that this was an "organized effort."
Cranley said Friday night saw "literally hundreds of people" out "enjoying a beautiful evening," which led to a crowd control issue for police. That, he said, is part of the reason for the curfew, as more protests are scheduled to take place around Cincinnati over the weekend.
The last time the city issued a curfew was during the riots that took place in 2001 after police shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. Charlie Luken was the mayor at the time.
Both Cranley and Isaac said this time was different.
"In 2001, the issue was about Cincinnati - it was about us," Cranley said. "...It wasn't the Cincinnati Police Department that killed Mr. Floyd."
On Saturday, African American Chamber President and CEO Eric Kearney asked the community to work together during this time.
"Our community is again suffering the hurt and outrage of yet another senseless transgression against an African American individual," he said in a statement. "Your African American Chamber understands your frustration and we urge you to channel it through prayer, thoughtful discussion and peaceful protest. We cannot, however, condone acts of violence against law enforcement and job-creating community businesses already reeling from the pandemic. We need to support local, community-based businesses as a way to uplift and empower."