CINCINNATI -- Several community members called on Mayor John Cranley Wednesday to remove Councilman Chris Smitherman as the chairman of council's law and public safety committee following comments he made about blacks and crime.
During the April 14 committee meeting, Smitherman said "black people must take ownership" of their behavior in light of the fact that the majority of this year's homicide victims were black men.
T. Rucker, a man who spoke for a group at Wednesday's full council meeting, said Smitherman should be held accountable for his words.
"We're not asking you to take him off of everything, to kick him off of council. We know you can't do that," Rucker said to Mayor John Cranley. "But, you are responsible for his appointment which makes you responsible for his behavior."
Homicides are up by 50 percent this year, when compared to the same time period last year.
The escalation led council and others to question how police can get tougher on crime. Smitherman suggested during the Jan. 7 law and public safety committee meeting that the police department adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy.
Many in the police department, including Blackwell, believe zero-tolerance policing is an archaic tactic that does more harm than good. Yet, Smitherman stands behind it.
“We want to be aggressive, but we also want to be right,” Blackwell told members of the committee during a January meeting. “We don’t want to be aggressive for the sake of aggression and violate people’s constitutional rights, while we try to get it right. We’re not going to go back to those days where we get somewhat reckless in our approach.
“We’re going to be targeted and focused and know who we’re going after,” he said.
The arrest-first policy associated with zero tolerance has filled the courts with first-time, minor offenders, police officials have said. Even when cases are dismissed, people can be shadowed for years by error-ridden criminal records, discouraging them from helping police in the future.
“The African-American community has accepted this as a cancer in the black community,” Smitherman said. “We have young black folks killing other young black folks and not just in Cincinnati, but across this country. And for me, it is silent as hell – I don’t hear the outrage."
But that wasn't what irked many. It was what came next.
“Black people must take ownership of these murders across this country. Our children are dying, so I have not gotten to the point that I think the moral voices are crystal clear that we’re going to find you and hold you accountable.”
The majority of the public comment during the council meeting was directed at Smitherman.
"I've had people close to me murdered. It's not a joke," Frankie Butler-Kidd, a citizen-on-patrol in Avondale, said. "It hurts me."
After Wednesday's meeting, Smitherman told WCPO that his reaction to the comments toward him were "very positive."
"I'm glad I've captured the attention of the community," he said.
The City of Cincinnati could be asked to contribute another $10 million for repairs related to the renovation of Union Terminal in Queensgate.
Hamilton County commissioners soon will decide whether to place a quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot to help repair Union Terminal and…
Hearings will take place next week that will affect the future of Music Hall and Union Terminal. Hamilton County Commissioners Greg Hartmann…
Democratic gubernatorial Ed FitzGerald has begun airing his first television ad.
The Cincinnati Museum Center is in favor of a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would help fund repairs to Union Terminal. But the project…
Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday he has definite plans to run in 2016 — at least for re-election. Whether he decides to aim…
What's Cleveland got that Cincinnati doesn't? A modern downtown arena with 88 luxury suites. And now, the 2016 Republican National…
Ohio's governor will focus on small businesses in a swing through three western Ohio cities.
After a few years in Boston, Mass., Dixie High School alum and former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and his family are back in…
The City of Cincinnati has several strategies underway to improve its minority contracting results, but Mayor John Cranley told WCPO he wants…