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Courthouse Demonstrators Keeping Police Issues Visible

Demonstrators call for a conviction in the second trial of Ray Tensing.
Bill Rinehart
Demonstrators call for a conviction in the second trial of Ray Tensing.

Members of several groups, including Black Lives Matter, want Ray Tensing convicted. The former UC police officer is on trial for the second time in the shooting death of unarmed motorist Sam DuBose. The first trial ended with a hung jury.

People gathered outside the Hamilton County Courthouse Tuesday calling for a conviction in this case. But they say the bigger goal is reforming how police interact with the black community.

Sam Katz says he believes the criminal justice system is biased in favor of police officers. He says protests will help change that.

"We need to make sure that everybody out here knows what's going on, that everybody out here knows that there's injustice happening right here, so that everybody knows that this entire system is flawed. Yes, it does go beyond this trial, but it's also immediate to this trial."

Katz says while the demonstration isn't supposed to sway the jury, he wants it to have an effect on the city. He says he and other protesters aren't trying to "just stir things up."

"We're just trying to build emotions. I mean, complacency is what we get. We get the status quo if we just sit around silent. We get nothing changing if we sit around silent," Katz said.

Jurors are instructed not to follow news accounts related to the trial. Aquashia Peterson says she believes they still know there are people dissatisfied with the justice system. She says demonstrations like this can affect the bigger picture.

"Since we're actually opening up other people's eyes towards police brutality and injustices in regards to police, I feel like they'll start (to) try to make changes."

Peterson was one of only a handful of African-Americans participating in the demonstration of about two dozen people. That didn't bother her. "I feel like it doesn't matter what race you are, as long as you represent. If you stand for us, we'll accept you."

A town hall is planned for Wednesday evening at the main branch of the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Public Library. Another demonstration outside the courthouse is planned for June 20.

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.