Alexander Shelton, a recent University of Cincinnati graduate, leads a “no justice, no peace” chant during a Black Lives Matter rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 29, 2015. Earlier in the day, former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was indicted on murder charges for the death of Samuel Dubose.
Hundreds stood in pouring rain to participate in the Black Lives Matter rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 29, 2015. Earlier that day, a grand jury indicted former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing on murder charges for the death of Samuel Dubose.
A group, not affiliated with Black Lives Matter, branches off from the rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse and marches to Fountain Square. Stephan Pryor, 39, chanted into his megaphone, "We come in peace."
CINCINNATI — As news spread of the Mount Auburn traffic stop that ended with former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing's shooting and killing an unarmed man on July 19, thousands across the nation braced for Cincinnati’s response.
Samuel DuBose, 43, was gunned down in the wake of unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore — and after a string of other police-involved deaths around the country.
He died in a community that’s felt this kind of tragedy before.
It’s been 14 years since the fatal police shooting of Timothy Thomas, another unarmed black man, erupted into a riot — a flash point that uncovered long-simmering tensions and frustrations between residents and Cincinnati police.
WATCH: File video from Cincinnati’s 2001 riots
But the same Downtown streets once flooded in 2001 with looters breaking store windows, police donning riot gear and dumpsters lit in flames were filled last week with hundreds of protestors and DuBose supporters who marched peacefully to express their demands.
Protesters chant "hands up, don't shoot" as they march from the Hamilton County Courthouse to Cincinnati Police Headquarters during a Black Lives Matter Rally on July 29, 2015.
So what prevented unrest here at a time when police-involved deaths in other cities turned to violence?
Become a WCPO Insider to read what community leaders think helped prevent a violent response to DuBose's death -- and what the key differences are from the riots in 2001.
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CINCINNATI — As news spread of the July 19 Mount Auburn traffic stop that ended with former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing shooting and killing an unarmed black man, thousands across the nation braced for Cincinnati’s response.
RELATED: Despite arrests, community leaders urge non-violent protests
So what prevented unrest here at a time when police-involved deaths in other cities turned to violence? Community leaders involved in the aftermath of both Thomas' and DuBose’s deaths chalk it up to city transparency, severe charges against Tensing, the role of DuBose’s family and reforms forged on the heels of the 2001 riots that are still in play today.
“The city has been rocked by a couple of really tragic incidents, and yet I think all the people who care about police-community relations have stayed at it to not let those incidents sidetrack what we’ve done to work with each other,” said Al Gerhardstein, a civil rights attorney who recently joined the DuBose family’s legal team.
Gerhadstein was instrumental in the creation of Cincinnati's Collaborative Agreement in the wake of Thomas' death. The historic agreement is now used as an example nationwide for how police departments can work with communities to overcome strife.
"I think around the nation, they’re watching very closely to see how we have acted and how we have reacted," said Bishop Bobby Hilton. "I think that now the rest of the nation is going to be more interested in what that Collaborative Agreement really all about."
'Everybody Is Willing to Talk'
The accessibility of high-ranking local officials and their continued discussion with influential community members encouraged demonstrators to keep the peace in the days following DuBose's death, experts said.
“Although things were simmering in the city (at the time of DuBose's death), I never felt the temperature in the city had reached a boiling point,” Hilton said. “I believe it’s because of the collaboration and communication between City Hall, the safety department and the faith leaders to the community. The community has been kept aware of things.”
But in 2001 it was a different story, Gerhardstein said.
“We were shut out. My clients were shut out of city government, of policing. Policing was viewed as a super secret activity that civilians couldn’t engage in,” he said.
Within 24 hours after DuBose was killed, UC President Santa Ono and Assistant Police Chief James Whalen released details about the investigation. Last week, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and other city leaders interacted with DuBose’s family members and protestors on the streets.
“That does make a difference…We have the ability to contact the mayor immediately," Hilton said. "We have the ability to contact the police chief immediately. Everybody is willing to talk. I don’t think we quite had that in 2001. It was ‘Hold on. We’re working on some answers, and we’ll let you know later.'"
Release of Body Camera Video Provided Closure
Hilton said the public release of body camera video worn by 25-year-old Tensing when he shot DuBose provided the closure for the community.
WATCH: Body cam video released in Sam DuBose shooting
"When the report came out that all media had filed a lawsuit for the release of the video, I think that played a major, major role (in the non-violence)," Hilton said. "It was like 'Wow! Even the media understands what we’re asking for.'"
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' announcement last week that a grand jury had charged Tensing with murder also played a role in the city's peaceful response, Hilton said.
"It was very important to us that what was on that video was going to match the charge that came down," he said. "Had we seen something on the video and there had been no indictment, that may have pushed things to a boiling point."
Aaron Pullins, a street outreach worker at the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, said the body camera video was a key difference from when Thomas was shot in 2001.
"If we didn’t have the camera, there is no way we would have had this type of evidence to bring closure and put those in power on the spot of making the right decisions," he said. "With what the film showed, there wasn’t much room for people to wiggle with."
DuBose Family, Others Call For Peace
Repeated calls from DuBose's family to remain peaceful in seeking justice is another factor that helped keep outraged community members peaceful, leaders said.
"I don't think the police and UC were in charge of what reaction would occur in the community. They didn’t, through their planning, prevent a riot. Rather, citizens chose to respond peacefully because the Dubose family asked for that, and that was the way to respect Sam DuBose and his family," Gerhardstein said.
It's not just the family's peaceful demeanor that encouraged non-violent behavior, Pullins said. Engaged citizens made a difference, too.
"There’s a little more consciousness in terms of violence than there was during the time of the 2001 violence," he said. "We have more shootings that concern the community -- more than it did then. The community really wants peace in the neighborhood."
Not Everything is Perfect
Despite positive, peaceful strides in Cincinnati, community leaders say there's still room for progress.
"In reality, this problem that we need to fix in our judicial system is not fixed yet," Pullins said. "There will always be risk that when injustice happens in America, the people who historically this has happened to are prepared to react to it -- especially the younger generation who won’t put up with the stuff that grandma and grandpa put up with."
He added that opportunists take advantage of police-involved deaths when they have no connection to the case or the community.
"You got all types of organizations who try to use these platforms for propaganda. They try to come (from out-of-town) and use the events that take place for national attention,” Pullins said.
It could be months or longer before Tensing's trial begins. Community leaders said they just want to keep the community on track.
"We know we have a long way to go," Hilton said, "and we’re going to keep our eyes focused toward justice."