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Protecting Us from Foul-Mouthed Protesters

By Gregory Flannery · April 11th, 2007 · Porkopolis
  Assistant Chief Richard Janke, avid supporter of civil rights, gave the neo-Nazis a permit.
Cincinnati Police Department

Assistant Chief Richard Janke, avid supporter of civil rights, gave the neo-Nazis a permit.

The city of Cincinnati might start screening political groups that want parade permits so as to bar any groups whose messages are deemed offensive. That's the implication of a motion proposed this week in response to a planned April 20 march in Over-the-Rhine by the American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP).

City council members called a press conference April 10 to announce a proposal to revise the city's parade-permit rules "to proscribe categories of expression that are not protected by the First Amendment, such as obscenity, defamation, 'fighting words' and other threatening and intimidating expressions and 'clear and present danger' expression." The motion also calls for limiting "the adverse secondary effects associated with some categories of expression that are protected by the First Amendment, including but not limited to indecent expression."

The police department now handles applications for parade permits. Unless that changes, the police would have the power to decide whether messages such as "Fuck the Police" or "Council Sucks" would be grounds for denying a permit. Where is Kabaka Oba when the city needs him?

It was none other than Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke who approved a permit for the neo-Nazis.

Janke's disdain for the Collaborative Agreement on Police/Community Relations is well known. In 2005, when he and Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. insulted a court-appointed monitor overseeing the agreement, a federal judge threatened to impose sanctions against the city. Janke also made headlines in 2001 when he threatened to "whack" participants in a protest in Mount Adams against police violence and racism (see "Gettin' Whacked," issue of June 7, 2001).

City Manager Milton Dohoney revoked the permit approved by Janke, leading the National Socialists to threaten a lawsuit. The neo-Nazis want to march April 20, the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birthday, from 13th and Sycamore streets to Washington Park. Citing concerns about white supremacists marching in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, Dohoney says the group can march only on Central Parkway from Vine Street to Elm Street. Bill White of Roanoke, Va., ANSWP commander, said the alternative route is unacceptable.

Councilman Christopher Bortz said council expects -- and welcomes -- a legal fight with the racists.

"We're willing to take the fight back to them," he said.

Ghiz Claims Mallory Is Black
Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz said the city revoked the original permit in response to statements White made after the permit had been approved. The statements include repeated racial slurs, some of them targeting Councilwoman Laketa Cole.

"They've made it very clear their purpose is to come down and actually precipitate violence," Ghiz said.

Council's proposal -- supported at the press conference by council members David Crowley, Jeff Berding, Cole, Bortz and Ghiz -- also calls for groups seeking parade permits to pay for "all additional police protection or city services," with 50 percent paid in advance.

The motion doesn't limit the fees to ANSWP, but that's clearly who council has in mind.

"They're not local," Ghiz said. "They're from somewhere else. They don't deserve our police protection. But the law requires us to give it to them. They're going to have to pay for it."

Council is of one mind in opposing the neo-Nazis, Cole said. "We are standing united," she said.

Crowley, who arrived late for the press conference, showed just how far that consensus goes, endorsing colleagues' remarks that he hadn't even heard.

"I don't know what's been said but I can imagine, and I agree with it," he said.

Mayor Mark Mallory, who wasn't at the press conference, said he'd learned about it an hour earlier, too late to change his schedule. Ghiz criticized his comparative reticence on the subject.

"It does surprise me that the mayor isn't carrying the torch on this, because last time I checked he's black," Ghiz said. "You've got Laketa Cole standing up there with four white people. Where's the mayor?"

When the same group was rumored to be planning a march on Fountain Square on Martin Luther King Day, Mallory called an off-the-record meeting with some newspaper publishers and TV news directors but made no public comment.

But now Mallory says he'll support a nonviolent counter-demonstration if the neo-Nazis march.

"I think that any outpouring of unity that can be shown around this effort is a welcome effort," he said. "This is a real opportunity for the city to show who the people in Cincinnati really are. We have a great opportunity to show the nation that we are united against racism."

The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center is one of several groups discussing a possible counter-demonstration.

For the latest developments involving racists, homophobes and other right-wing nut cases, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138) or pork(at)citybeat.com


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