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Cincinnati Mayor, Police Chief Discuss Protests; Extended Curfew To Begin At 9 p.m.

Protestors march through downtown Cincinnati Saturday, May 30 2020.
Ronny Salerno
Protestors march through downtown Cincinnati Saturday, May 30 2020.

Cincinnati is extending a weekend curfew implemented as protests continue with more planned Sunday and Monday. A citywide curfew will now begin at 9 p.m., running through at least Tuesday morning.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Police Chief Eliot Isaac made the announcement during a Sunday morning news conference on events during and following protests Saturday in Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and portions of Uptown, including Corryville and CUF.

Cranley opened the news conference stating: "The biggest moral issue right now is what happened to George Floyd ... murdered. The man who murdered him is charged with murder. It raises a whole host of issues that we as a city have been through before. We're not perfect and we will continue to be part of those conversations and hope to be part of those solutions. I don't want everything else that is dominating the news around the country this morning to take away from that point. I start with that, again, because I do think it's important to keep the moral North star that we need to build a more inclusive country and city."

Daylong protests Saturday extended into the evening and well beyond a 10 p.m. curfew implemented following protests Friday that ended with damage to some businesses.

The protests are in honor of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis who died earlier this week while being arrested by police. The offending officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, has since been fired and is now facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Saturday's protests were peaceful as demonstrators moved about Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. Late in the evening people began marching up Vine St. to the Clifton Heights area. Earlier, events also escalated in front of Cincinnati Police Headquarters where pepper spray was used to disperse those gathered when rocks and bottles began being thrown. There were several situations throughout the evening that involved things being thrown and pepper spray deployed.

Mayor Cranley says he was there and the situation was scary. He talked anecdotally about what he says he witnessed "because race is such a big issue in all of this and the treatment of African Americans by law enforcement is the right 'North star' of improvement that we need, I will state that the activities we found the most frightening and the most scary as we sat there were by white people. There were a number of white people in the crowd that were clearly engaged in coordinated activities."

Cranley says he saw white individuals separate from the protest and appear to "case" police headquarters counting officers and indicated windows that would later have rocks thrown through them. He says he believes these people weren't really there to protest but were trying to provoke police into taking action.

Cranley says officers showed restraint throughout the evening and did a "tremendous job," which kept incidents and conflicts from escalating. He says the curfew was a helpful tool that aided in the "professional, sensitive and good outcome relative to what we saw around the country," which is part of why it's being expanded and extended.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac reports 110 people were arrested, 78 for violating curfew. Other arrests were for various charges including assault on a police officer, arson, carrying a concealed weapon, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. One person was arrested for rioting and one for vandalism, Isaac says.

One Cincinnati Police Officer was shot Saturday. According Isaac, the bullet went through the officers shield and struck his helmet. The officer was not injured and an investigation is underway.

"I absolutely believe it was intentional," Isaac says. "The round went through the shield and struck the center of the helmet."

Isaac says he stands in support of people expressing their First Amendment right to protest. He also strongly condemned the actions of the officers involved in George Floyd's death.

When asked about the possibility of calling in the National Guard, Cranley said he wouldn't rule it out but doesn't expect to do so in the short term. He said he's keeping the option open in case people reach exhaustion and need assistance.

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.