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Police chief, sheriff kneel in solidarity with protesters in Cincinnati

Hundreds protest outside courthouse, City Hall, police HQ
Protest Jim Neil takes knee.jpg
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 20:19:47-04

CINCINNATI — A large group of protesters cheered as Cincinnati police Chief Eliot Isaac took a knee in solidarity with them outside District 1 headquarters Monday evening.

A similar collaborative moment occurred a few hours earlier when Sheriff Jim Neil knelt at the request of protesters gathered at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

"Kneel with us,” protesters shouted as they knelt in front of the courthouse steps.

The fourth day of protests was peaceful in the first five hours Monday afternoon, with police reporting only one arrest as of 6 p.m. Nevertheless, Mayor John Cranley moved up the city's curfew to 8 p.m. and issued a stern warning following 307 arrests Sunday night and early Monday morning.

About 6 p.m., part of the crowd started marching downtown, stopping at Fountain Square about 7 p.m. on the way back to the courthouse. Shortly before 8 p.m., police stopped southbound traffic on Central Parkway as marchers filled the street.

At least some tension and suspicion remained earlier Monday. Some protesters pointed out someone they thought was a undercover officer and kept eyes on him until he walked away from their group.

Others claimed they spotted police on the courthouse roof taking their pictures.

WCPO 9's Mariel Carbone reported the courthouse crowd reached over 1,000 in midday, spilling out onto Main Street and blocking traffic, in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

Neil's response came a day after deputies hoisted a “thin blue line” flag outside the Hamilton County Justice Center, replacing a United States flag that Neil said had been stolen by protesters.

By 3:30 p.m. Monday, the crowd had moved to City Hall, where protesters asked Cincinnati police officers to take a knee. The protesters then moved to District 1 in the West End.

Cranley warned that the curfew could be extended further into the week if ongoing protests culminated in more property damage or attacks on officers.

Sunday’s protest was far larger than either Friday or Saturday’s, according to Isaac. Those demonstrations, which remained peaceful for hours during the day, both became tense after dark — buildings in Over-the-Rhine were vandalized Friday, and a bullet struck a Cincinnati officer’s helmet early Sunday morning. Cranley implemented the 9 p.m. curfew in response.

Most arrests have been for violating the curfew, police said. But others have been charged with arson, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, carrying a concealed weapon, rioting and vandalism.