CINCINNATI -- Hours before the kickoff in one of FC Cincinnati's biggest games thusfar, club president Jeff Berding stepped outside Nippert Stadium to deliver bottled water to the activists gathered nearby.
"What you're doing is important," he told them.
Those demonstrators had gathered under the umbrella of the Countdown to Conviction Coalition, a group of affiliated civil organizations devoted to pursuing a guilty verdict for ex-University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing.
Tensing shot and killed unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose during an off-campus traffic stop in 2015; the incident took place a little over a mile away from Nippert. Tensing has been tried twice on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter, and two juries have failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the case. The DuBose family and its supporters remain adamant that he ought to be tried again.
Berding's brief interaction with the coalition could characterize the entire event, which attracted dozens of protesters and hundreds of enthusiastic soccer fans but none of the confrontation that city and university police said they had cautiously prepared for.
Demonstrator Alexis Cox said the coalition members had chosen Nippert for their protest because they hoped to spread their message to the many fans attending Wednesday night's game.
"There's power and strength in unity," Cox said. "I'm hoping that we can build not only a stronger family but a stronger community."
Cox and protesters like her lined the entrance to the stadium, holding signs, chanting and passing out fliers for more protests later in the week. According to one, the group plans to picket outside Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' office Thursday and hold a Fourth of July event next week.