Reflecting on riots, fifteen years later

By: James Neyer ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | In 2001, riot control met protesters in Over-the-Rhine shortly following the police shooting of Timothy Thomas.

In 2001, Cincinnati was home to the largest race riots in the U.S. since the Rodney King riots in 1992. This event occurred while Xavier students were away for spring break, and a discussion was held with them upon their return. Xavier’s Father Graham, Gene Beaupre and Kelly Leon played a major role in easing tension among community leaders and the police in the following year. These same leaders now invite Xavier students to a conversation where they can learn about the events that occurred in 2001 and Xavier’s role in them.

“When we had the first discussion, we were not sure if anyone would even attend. The day of the discussion though, the Conaton Board Room was filled up with no standing room. People were in the halls, trying to engage in the discussion too,” Kelly Leon, Xavier’s director for strategic communications, said.

This event will start with the viewing of news clips that will summarize the events that took place. Afterwards, a discussion will be led by those who facilitated the previous talks. Students are encouraged to ask questions throughout the discussion.

“Most students are unaware of these events, as they may not be from Cincinnati or too young to remember,” Sean Rhiney, director for the Eigel Center for Community- Engaged Learning, said. “Our goal is not just to have a history lecture, but to involve the students by posing the question ‘What will we do moving forward?’”

This event is to help students get caught up so that they may better engage the community in a town hall meeting about the riots and their aftermath in February. The meeting will be a reflection on the events that occurred in 2001, and what has, and has not, changed in the 15 years since.

The conversation will start at 4 p.m. on Jan. 21 in the Conaton Board Room in Schmidt Hall. This will be a preview to the ERS lecture titled “Fifteen Years Later: The Cincinnati Riots and the Future of the City,” which will take place from 7-9 p.m on Feb. 2 in Cintas Center.