CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman wants all curfew violation charges dropped against protesters.
A motion co-sponsored by Councilperson Jan-Michele Kearney and submitted June 8 reads: “We move that the city prosecutor not pursue criminal charges against any person arrested solely for a curfew violation during the period of May 30, 2020-June 8, 2020.”
“I think the city would really take a huge step forward toward reconciliation and starting to move this conversation forward if we could just say, look, we’re going to drop the charges against those who were peaceably protesting,” Kearney said.
Smitherman, a registered independent and chair of the law and public safety committee, believes that dropping the misdemeanor charges would represent a good-faith effort by the city.
“This is a first step to send a message that we understand the protests, that we are hearing you, and that those who engaged in peaceful protests and are only in violation of the curfew, that we are going to extend what we believe is the right, righteous thing to do, which is not give people a criminal record for exercising their right to raise the consciousness of America," Smitherman said.
The proposal comes after hundreds were arrested over the weekend and on Monday for violating a curfew that on Saturday was limited to urban basin neighborhoods and later grew to encompass the entire city.
Many were arrested for violent crimes as well, but Smitherman says the proposal is not about them.
“Those citizens that threw bricks at our professionals, that in any way broke into, looted, broke windows that we’ve arrested, that brought guns to the protests, this motion has nothing to do with them," he said.
Several protesters claim they were treated unfairly at the justice center after being arrested, saying they were held outside with little food and water and constrained restroom access.
Councilperson Chris Seelbach says he believes the protestors’ claims.
“Having to be in the conditions that (Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil) put them in, which were despicable, you know, that’s a punishment for the crime that they committed," Seelbach said. "I don’t think that they deserve up to six months in jail.”
Neil denies the protesters’ allegations.
It will ultimately be up to the city solicitor to decide if the charges will be dropped.
There are more protests planned this weekend. Smitherman says he fully expects that they will be peaceful.