Fist up fight back: lessons for the movement against police brutality from Cincinnati

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A black and white photo showing a large crowd at a Black Luves Matter Protest called ain 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray.

2015, Mass Rally in Solidarity with Freddie Gray who was murdered by Baltimore police

Written with Griffin Ritze

What does an effective movement against police brutality look like? Despite recent setbacks, we argue that Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati, in its structures to its tactics, is exemplary of the kind of organization our side needs to be building in a much more serious way if we want to win in the long term.


In June, a judge declared a second mistrial in the case of former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing, a white police officer who murdered an unarmed black motorist. Nearly two years before, Tensing pulled Sam DuBose over for a missing front license plate and at the end of a short traffic stop, DuBose was shot in the head, killing him instantly and sending his car speeding down a residential street.

The second trial began seven months after a jury was unable to come to a verdict the first time around. And as with the last case, a coalition of groups including Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati (BLMC), Socialist Alternative, Socialist Students, the NAACP, the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, Democratic Socialists of America, and others came together to build the largest possible base within Cincinnati’s working class around an explicit call for a conviction.

The mistrial came only days after a hung jury occurred in the trial of the police officer who murdered Philando Castile just outside of Minneapolis. Both killings were caught on camera for the entire world to see and yet neither case resulted in a conviction. Hours after the result, Socialist Alternative joined hundreds of other activists in Minneapolis to protest the injustice. In Cincinnati, pouring rain kept a larger crowd away after the DuBose result, but the over one hundred protesters did turn out with chants of “it’s raining injustice, this court is disgusting.”

Then in late July, County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced that he would not move forward with a third attempt at a conviction, essentially ending the prospects for any legal recourse at a local level. The judge in the second trial, Leslie Ghiz, formally dropped the charges against Tensing a week later. Deters, a right wing politician, is no friend to the Black Lives Matter movement and the initial indictment of Tensing was out of the ordinary for the prosecutor who is usually quick to come to the defense of any cop cops who uses force on the job.

Sam’s murder in June of 2015 came at a high point in struggle nationally. The movement had exploded following the August 2014 murder of Missouri teen Mike Brown, and Cincinnati itself was no stranger to the threat of police brutality and the fightback against it. For decades, there has been an ebb and flow of organizing against the justice system which criminalizes the city’s poor. Racial profiling, laws targeting the poor, systematic divestment in housing and jobs have all disproportionately affected Black working class communities.

In Cincinnati, as with every other city in America, state use of violence and repression divides the city’s working class residents along racial lines in the service of deeper ends. It is no coincidence that DuBose was killed by a University police officer, nor that DuBose was killed in a neighborhood on the brink of gentrification. Around campus, heightening race and class contradictions, which pit students against longer term residents under the increasing strain of capitalist re-development, were bound to produce results like this at some point.

DuBose’s death, the trial of his killer, and the renewed prospect of meaningful changes to the racist justice system are best understood when rooted in the history of racist violence and the struggle for Black liberation in the reactionary Queen City.

A History of Violence

The last major upsurge in the fight against state violence occurred in 2001. That April, years of escalating tension between the community and an unaccountable police force was finally unleashed in a week of rioting after the killing of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas by Officer Stephen Roach. Roach would be found not guilty of negligent homicide in a trial several months later.

Between 1995 and April 2001, fifteen Black men were killed by the police. Only five months before Timothy Thomas was killed, Roger Owensby, Jr, a Black veteran, ran from two police officers during an extended search which ended with the man in a chokehold. Owensby died in police custody following his arrest from the injuries he sustained, and neither cop was convicted on the manslaughter or misdemeanor assault charges that were brought against them.

This succession of police killings, brutality and the failure of the justice system brought the subterranean rage within the Black working class to the center of city politics.

Through protracted struggle for reforms led by a coalition of activists and clergy called the Cincinnati Black United Front—including a boycott that cost the city an estimated $10 million—a comprehensive Department of Justice investigation was initiated alongside a series of new policies and procedures that were meant to address the racialized character of policing in the city.

Although roundly praised for the effort’s scale and intent, with Cincinnati seen as a model for police reforms nationally following Ferguson in 2014, the series of reforms, known as the Collaborative Agreement, have fallen short of its proponents’ aims. A centerpiece of the reforms was the Citizen Complaint Authority (CCA), established to provide oversight to individual police action and overall policy. But in 2016, the authority was called “short-staffed, underfunded and behind on its work” by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Despite 698 allegations of police misconduct reported by citizens to the CCA between 2011 and 2015 only 68 (9.7 percent) of those allegations against officers were “sustained” by the authority and deemed to have resulted from improper actions taken by a police officer.

Source: City of Cincinnati Citizen Complaint Authority

In annual reports, the CCA simply categorizes the allegations, providing statistics for each decision conducted by the review board in every case. Crucially, the reports do not provide the result of each investigation by category—so it is impossible for any member of the public to know for example, how many of the nearly 300 excessive use of force complaints filed between 2011-2015 were exonerated or sustained by the board. More to the point, there is no reporting from the CCA that indicates whether any disciplinary action was taken against an officer as a result of a sustained complaint. To this date there have been no publicly reported firings or disciplinary action resulting from the CCA.

As part of the Collaborative Agreement, yearly reviews were completed by the RAND Corporation until 2010, finding improvement in some areas but continued racial disparity in traffic stops resulting in searches (even though the “hit rate” between races was the same), and use-of-force incidents involving Black people remaining disparate (at 75 percent, a number consistent with the proportion of arrestees who are Black) relatively unchanged. With nearly ten years since the last RAND report, these numbers cannot be trusted to describe the conditions of policing that Black people face in Cincinnati.

Although policing is meant to be “collaborative” in the wake of the agreement, working class citizens have little to no say over the day-to-day work of the police in their neighborhoods. In reality, it’s a pay-to-play system, with private corporations and groups exerting a disturbing level of control over how policing is done. For example, in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine, where the 2001 riots occurred, the neighborhood chamber of commerce pays for extra patrols and even provides routes for squad cars to take.

Likewise in 2009, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), a public-private corporation set up in 2003 to consolidate gentrification efforts after the riots, was able to dispatch police officers to prevent low-income tenants from organizing against unjust evictions. In one case, this approach included the use of two horse-mounted units during a tense meeting between 3CDC and tenants—a dramatic illustration of the power relations between the owning class and the police against working people, even in the struggle to secure basic needs. The committee of Fortune 500 corporations and banks that formed 3CDC saw the aftermath of the 2001 riot as an opportunity to remake Over-the-Rhine in the interests of profit over the material needs of the Black working class who have lived in the neighborhood for generations.

It’s telling that the move to remake the neighborhoods in the central section of the city have been more far-reaching, well-funded and successful than any attempt to overhaul policing. Fundamentally, the limits of the Collaborative Agreement as a series of policing reforms are defined by the irreconcilable interests of the institutions of the state and those that are policed within capitalist society. The result is that the reforms have been dictated on the terms of the ruling class: They still control the budgets, the hiring and firing of the police, and ultimately how the policies called for in the fallout after the riots were implemented. Such top-down directed reforms will never serve to hold police accountable or change their role as the enforcers of the capitalist order. These and other policies will never fix the problems that lead to desperate situations in the first place.

Despite the effort of those from the Cincinnati Black United Front who won a seat at the table in the negotiations that defined the Collaborative Agreement, the terms of police reform will inevitably favor private interests and the ruling class under capitalism. The supposed results claimed by proponents of the Collaborative Agreement ring hollow when less than 10 percent of the allegations brought forward are considered valid and an untold number of incidents of police brutality are buried in the reporting.

City officials line up to support the reforms of the last 16 years, but regular people have a different perspective. In canvassing drives undertaken by Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati, members routinely speak to people in working-class Black neighborhoods who have been brutalized by the police themselves, or who had a family member, coworker, or friend that was. It is abundantly clear that the scale of police misconduct and brutality has remained unchanged since the Collaborative Agreement was inaugurated.

After plans build the Underground Railroad Freedom Center—museum of Black history—were announced in 2003, Reverend Damon Lynch, Jr. one of the leaders of the boycott, responded, saying, “We never asked for a museum on the river, we asked for housing in the ‘hood.”

Back to the Future

Family, friends, and activists gather outside of the apartment of Quandavier Hicks, 22 – killed by Cincinnati police. Photo: ©David Sorcher 2015

From 2001 to June 2015, 21 people had been killed by Cincinnati Police, a rate only slightly lower than that leading up to the riots. In the gentrifying Northside neighborhood, 22 year old Quandavier Hicks, was shot and killed by police after allegedly meeting two police officers at the door of his apartment with a rifle following a domestic disturbance call to his address.

Against the backdrop of resistance to police brutality throughout the country the Cincinnati police department moved swiftly to characterize Hicks’ death as a justified killing. In the press conference that immediately followed the shooting, Assistant Police Chief James Whalen insisted that when Hicks met the police at his doorstep, “It wasn’t a hello, It was a rifle in the face.” Then Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell addressed concerns of police misconduct by saying, “None of us want to come to work and have to do this, our officers, when they use deadly force, are forced to use deadly force.”

Hours after the incident, after the police tape was lifted, Hicks’ girlfriend remarked that the apartment was seemingly torn apart by police and suggested that the rifle could have been retrieved by police after the shooting. Rumors swirled through the neighborhood that a friend of Hicks who was staying with him was known to be in the building at the time of the shooting and had been coached through a testimony to authorities under the advisement of a family member on the police force. Several of Hicks’ neighbors knew that he owned an old rifle but that it was not in functioning condition. They insisted that if Hicks thought that he was in danger that he would much sooner have sent his dog downstairs with him to defend himself before drawing a broken rifle at close quarters.

Further inconsistencies surrounding the circumstances of Hicks’ death came to light through organizing led by Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati and demands were made by activists and the Hicks family for an open and transparent investigation into his death. Despite these efforts and a lawsuit against the police department filed by his family last year, the internal investigation into Hicks’ death remains open today.

CPD & UCPD

Though essentially a miniature police district fully enveloped by the City of Cincinnati, before DuBose’s death, the University of Cincinnati Police Department (UCPD) had no policy relating to community or campus oversight, nor had it signed onto the Collaborative Agreement.

And in the months leading up to Dubose’s killing, new initiatives had stepped up the aggressiveness of the University’s security force, advertised as the best and only way to keep students protected in the area around campus. But when it came to the use of force, it usually resulted in tragic ends. In 2011, Everette Howard, an 18 year old on campus for a summer program, was tased to death after an officer claimed the teen had charged at him. A $2 million settlement was won by Howard’s family and a memorial bench was installed in a low-traffic area of campus.

Though crime in the area has declined steadily for a number of years by the time of Sam DuBose’s death, the University’s then President Santa Ono called for tougher prosecution and conviction of thieves caught robbing students. In a 2013 letter to county judges, he called on them to “to send a clear, forceful and reverberating message to criminals and the broader community that predatory targeting of UC students will have severe consequences. We respectfully ask that you do so whenever possible.”

This call was mirrored by an effort by UCPD to step up efforts in the area around campus. In the fall of 2014, new police chief Jason Goodrich introduced a policy to dramatically increase traffic stops. According to an investigation into the department after the killing of Dubose, when officers within the department questioned this policy, they were excluded from meetings and flatly told to fall in line. Though Goodrich, who was forced to resign before the publication of the report, denies these claims, the policy itself was at least internally communicated among various offices in the University when it was introduced.

Officer Tensing heard the message loud and clear. As traffic stops, ticketing, and arrests all increased under Goodrich, Tensing led the department in arrests—four times the department average—and made 81 percent of the tickets he wrote out to Black people. Robin Engel, head of the reform efforts at the University claimed Tensing was an outlier, which new data analysis put in place after the shooting would be able to identify, but this ignores the broader fact that Black people received 62 percent of all tickets written in the same period—this in a city made up of 44 percent Black residents.

The reform efforts undertaken by the University only provide cover for the continuing militarization of the police force. While they introduce new diversity policies in the hiring process–a tactic which has never proven to affect the execution of police work in the places it’s been implemented–they simultaneously adopting new measures related to the use of bomb robots, sniper rifles and counter terrorism procedures. Under the banner of ‘public safety’ a new “Emergency Operations Center” costing in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars only expands the state’s surveillance apparatus which, far from protecting students, serves to police and control the activities of all who live and work under its all seeing eye.

The Role of Police

What is really needed is a critical analysis of the role of police generally, as well as the special role of the University police. The reform efforts, led by well paid members of the administration, start from the wrong place in their analysis and will inevitably arrive at the wrong conclusions.

Police in capitalist society enforce racist and classist laws put in place by the ruling class to protect their own position. It’s no coincidence that both Timothy Thomas’s and Sam DuBose’s murders both stemmed from supposed traffic violations. To the business owners, university administrators, landlords, and developers, Black working class people simply driving through a neighborhood undergoing structural, deliberate, demographic shifts have the potential to hurt their profits and salaries. Sometimes discouraging working class citizens from living in these areas through rent hikes, removal of much needed services, ticketing, and general harassment by police isn’t enough, and a turn to outright violence in necessitated. This violence is class politics by other means.

Black people face the brunt of this violence, by virtue of the racist base of class society, but the entire working class faces tough conditions in one way or another.

Throughout history, the police and similar forces have sided with the ruling class in these battles. Think of photos of protests—for workers’ rights, women’s rights, Black rights, tenants rights—throughout the ages: which side are the police protecting? Ultimately it will take a multiracial movement rooted in the working class, with the support of unions and community groups to realize our collective power and hit the ruling class where it hurts: their profits.

Fight back

Brian Taylor, Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati Steering Committee member

In the week after DuBose’s killing, Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati’s militant leadership channeled the movement’s energy to keep the pressure on the state. Days of peaceful but disciplined protest delivered a rare indictment of the Tensing, along with the release of his body cam footage. This pressure has been sustained at a high level over the course of the last several years while the movement has had its ebb and flow more broadly. BLMC’s organizing model is exemplary of what the movement could be nationwide.

In 2015, after a series of local campaigns and debates within the larger Black Lives Matter movement, BLMC affirmed themselves as an independent organization with a distinct platform and program outside of the official Black Lives Matter and ‘Movement for Black Lives’ activist networks. They work with broader formations whenever possible, but retain their own perspectives and raise their own slogans and demands.

One fundamental difference in perspective from the broader forces associated with the Black Lives Matter network and Movement for Black Lives is BLMC’s commitment to building a movement against police brutality, oppression, and exploitation on the basis of multiracial solidarity.

BLMC steering committee member Brian Taylor describes the basis of this principle: “One of the greatest things that we have in common, we—meaning the so-called 99%—is that we all punch a clock somewhere and in most cases it’s the one thing that we have in common. Even if we don’t realize it on a profound level, the one experience that we all have is that we live check to check. We’re all exploited as working people.”

Membership at all levels of organization including their central leadership committee is open to people of all backgrounds so long as they show principled commitment to the organization. “We center our political and organizational work in communities of oppressed peoples,” says Taylor. “We strive consciously for our membership and official leadership to reflect that. Our organization is open to all —on every level, to anyone of any ethnicity or gender—who agrees with and carries out in practice, our principles.”

Despite the common material interests of workers of all ethnicities and nationalities under capitalism, Taylor does not refute the persistence of racism within the working class. He compares this reactionary layer to the thin crust that develops after leaving out a glass of milk: “The struggle of workers for their rights and benefits—and not just on the job but for health care, housing, schooling—all of these things start to let us see each other and start to let us break through that thin glaze of ignorance that this society has created.”

Crucially, BLMC’s perspective on this question is based in a Marxist analysis of capitalist society and the necessity for working class solidarity as the strongest possible basis for fighting oppression under capitalism. At a time where mortality rates for middle-aged whites have increased for the first time since the beginning of the twentieth century, the general decline in living standards for working people in the U.S. has constructed an increasingly common condition for working people across ethnicities and nationalities.

Facing the brutality of global capitalism which dispossessed millions of working people in the U.S. of their homes during the foreclosure crisis of 2007-2008—a crisis which decimated 50 percent of all Black wealth accumulated during the postwar period—we have a responsibility to foreground a multiracial basis for working class struggle against that which divides us: capitalism’s endless pursuit of profit over the needs of the masses. As socialists it’s not simply that we need to be there to fight on behalf of people of color, but we need to recognize that the fight is unified.

Counterposed to this principle and the potential for struggle that follows it, the liberal conception of “allyship” limits the basis for working class solidarity by dividing working people in the struggle against oppression into separate lanes. This concept of political agency for those who fall outside a particular oppressed group has proven to be insufficient in an era characterized by the overall decline of living standards for the entire working class in the U.S. and the generalization of state violence that was previously reserved in large part for Black and Brown people under Reagan’s so-called “War on Drugs”.

BLMC’s Taylor has repeatedly made the case for “accomplices” in the struggle over the narrow, reductive agency of (white) “allyship.” While this distinction may seem semantic on the surface, the popular conception of allyship on the activist left demands either an unflinching subordination to oppressed people by virtue of their “lived experiences,” or, on the other hand, that “dominate groups” do the work of dismantling systems of oppression–the notion that it’s “up to whites to dismantle white supremacy.”

This approach has proven to be insufficient at a time when BLMC is looking toward new layers of leadership in the movement and partner organizations in the coalition to lead the way alongside them – not behind them. BLMC’s commitment to principled multiracial unity is not a pragmatic or moral calculation, rather it is based in a historical and theoretical understanding that working people, despite their differences, have a common material interest in fighting for a world that is organized on the basis of human need instead of profit. A cursory review of history’s most successful movements–the structures, slogans and strategies—bears out this perspective. These ideas have been explained and debated out at meetings as tactics constantly change based on the input of all members and the state of struggle locally and nationally.

The Countdown to Conviction Coalition that BLMC initially assembled during Tensing’s first trial reflects their commitment to building a broad working class movement. Member organizations of the coalition have actively collaborated by holding rallies, town hall events, organizing meetings, and canvassing drives within predominantly Black working neighborhoods to engage working people in the fight against police brutality and systemic racism. This emphasis on reaching the masses has unfortunately not been a common feature of the larger Black Lives Matter movement which has increasingly turned toward narrowly focused advocacy campaigns and open collaboration with the ruling class.

The strength of a multiracial working class approach was demonstrated on July 24 when coalition forces mobilized a counter-demonstration against reactionary supporters of the police who called a rally to ‘support’ Ray Tensing under the banner #TensingProud. Just hours before the publicized rally, the organizers canceled the event citing unsubstantiated threats of violence against them. Given the multiracial composition of BLMC and the coalition in general, Tensing’s reactionary supporters could not fall back on simple racist tropes about Black and white ‘racial tension’ to slander the movement. Principled multiracial unity wins out against opponents of this struggle who bait racist sympathies from whites in their attempt to line working class whites up behind the police.

Broadening the Struggle

Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati – Photo: 5chw4r7z on Flickr

From a Marxist perspective, the only way forward for the movement is to deepen its roots within the Black working class on the broadest possible basis to draw the masses of people into struggle against police brutality, systemic racism and for transitional demands like a $15 minimum wage and improved Medicare-for-all which would improve the conditions for all working people—especially those oppressed layers of the working class.

The potential of a united multiracial working class movement was demonstrated last year when BLMC and anti-Trump marches joined forces in the streets of Cincinnati. The two concurrent marches crossed paths after originating at different locations for different purposes. Thousands of working people pulled into action by police brutality and the reactionary agenda of the Trump administration collided and returned as one massive body to BLMC’s rally in Washington Park, a site in Over-the-Rhine remade in the interest of the city’s corporate elite through gentrification. A park imbued with the history of struggle against police brutality and the powers that be was filled once again with thousands of people striving for a better world. In 2010, as the park was about to be closed for renovations, a police officer in patrolling the park drove his cruiser off a walking path and across the lawn, striking and killing a homeless woman sleeping under a tree. The redevelopment of that park removed the best performing public school in the neighborhood, basketball courts, and a deep-water pool.

Against the advice of conservative elements within the broader movement against police brutality that urge groups like the Countdown to Conviction Coalition to stay home and let the justice system run its course, a structural analysis reveals that the justice system is stacked against working people, especially when people of color people are slain by the police.

In her signature work The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander explains how racial oppression is obfuscated by the racist criminal justice system in an era of colorblindness:

Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a Black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

Today, ‘formal’ racial equality is recognized in legal terms but Black working people remain subjected to the same dynamics of discrimination, segregation, unemployment and precarity experienced in the wake of Jim Crow. The nominal racial equality realized by liberal democracy and the justice system is incapable of reconciling the social history of oppression with its present legal form: racialized policing under the banner of “public safety.”

It is only in this regime that the fact that Tensing wore a Confederate flag t-shirt under his police uniform when he murdered Sam DuBose was considered to be too “prejudicial” as evidence for the jury in Tensing’s retrial despite the racialized history of the symbol, its historical significance as a totem of white racism, and its social relevance today as such. Tensing insisted he wore the shirt because it was worn out and thus well-suited as an undershirt, but there is a forgotten context that illustrates the preposterousness of this claim that only comes into view if we situate ourselves in June and July of 2015. In June, Dylann Roof, a white man obsessed with the dream of becoming a martyr in a war that would forge the creation of a white ethnostate, entered a Charleston, South Carolina church and killed nine Black parishioners gathered for a bible study. Within days, the Confederate flag that Roof coveted and that flew in front of the South Carolina statehouse came to the center of the national debate. The shirt is a key piece of evidence that indicts not just Tensing, but the whole system for its racism.

A movement of everyday people

A photo of Dam DuBose looking straight at the camera.

Sam DuBose (March 12, 1972 – July 19, 2015)

Sam DuBose himself was not immune to the groundswell of Black working-class outrage that erupted on August 9th, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black man, was gunned down by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

The fightback in Ferguson became a global symbol of resistance and a warning to the political system of the potential unrest to follow after years of Black immiseration under Obama’s shallow neoliberal politics of representation without redistribution.

In a song posthumously released by a collaborator, DuBose described the pervasive outrage within the Black community as a “global warming”:

I’m talking worldwide, I’m talking genocide. A lot of lives lost, at a small cost.
Who gon’ benefit? Not us. We never benefit.
I had a dream like Luther King – then I woke up like I could change things

The warming that DuBose describes is a deepening awareness within the Black community of the limits of representation within a political and economic system that has always functioned at the expense of the masses of Black people— from slavery to today’s regime of mass incarceration, unemployment, and poverty.

His family and those who knew him closely knew Sam as a revolutionary. He taught his children about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and in the last moments of his life he was returning home to watch a documentary with his 9-year-old son on the prison system.

What’s clear is that DuBose would have been fully conscious of the political implications of his own death: police kill with impunity in the Black community. If anything was going to change it was clear to him that it would take a mass movement of ordinary people like himself to fight back against the racist status quo perpetuated by capitalism.

The coalition will keep fighting for as long as it takes to get Tensing behind bars. The DuBose family, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to the movement, are currently calling for federal civil rights charges to be brought against Tensing after prosecutor Joe Deters decided not to retry Tensing for a third time on July 18. Despite Deters’ insistence that his office “left nothing on the table” in the retrial, the weakness of the prosecution has been exposed in the media.

And, like the family, we understand that jailing Ray Tensing and winning Justice for Sam isn’t enough, we need to go further with our demands. As the failure of the top-down reform movement shows, we need to take control of the police at a neighborhood level. This includes fully funding and expanding the Citizen Complaint Authority, giving residents full democratic control over hiring and firing of officers and setting the budgets related to policing in their neighborhoods. We must hold corporations and the rich accountable through taxes and a $15 an hour minimum wage, community directed jobs programs, improved affordable housing, and good public schools.

Old divisions within the justice system and bourgeois politics going back to the aftermath of the 2001 riots have come back into focus following Tensing’s retrial. On July 24, the Fraternal Order of Police announced that they will cease their participation in renegotiating the Collaborative Agreement with city officials and community leaders after taking a no-confidence vote against prosecutor Deters for his handling of the retrial. FOP Lodge 69 President Dan Hils went on the offensive saying “you can’t expect me to sit with somebody that’s essentially punching me in the nose.” For our movement, this is a reminder that even limited reforms like the Collaborative Agreement can be swept away if working people are not mobilized to defend past gains and fight for further concessions.

Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati’s leadership in the struggle points the way forward for the broader Black Lives Matter movement which remains uneven and scattered in its politics and program. In the next period, a serious commitment toward engaging the Black working class in struggle against police brutality and systemic racism is needed on a national scale.