The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

In Cincinnati, Patience Ran Out

Apr 23, 2001

In the early morning hours of April 7, two-off duty cops working in a Cincinnati, Ohio bar tried to stop Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19-year-old black man, walking home.

The moonlighting cops said that they recognized Thomas as someone with outstanding warrants. When Thomas wouldn’t stop for them, they called for back-up, and 12 officers joined chase. One cop, Stephen Roach, shot and killed Thomas.

Roach executed Thomas on the spot. And for what? Because Thomas had outstanding traffic tickets. Yes, that’s right, traffic tickets. Tickets for not having a driver’s license, five tickets for not wearing a seat belt, a ticket for not having a child’s seat, a ticket for tinted glass, two tickets for running a stop sign. Thomas also had two warrants for not showing up to answer the traffic tickets.

Between March 17 and May 4, 2000, cops stopped Thomas 20 times in his own neighborhood when he drove by them in his 1978 Chevy, minding his own business. Each time, they checked his seat belt, his license and registration. They looked in his car, tried to spot something that they could use as a pretext to charge him for something, anything. Yet, they found nothing. All they had were the traffic stops–almost all of them on pretexts.

The liberal politicians and the new media may call what happened to Timothy Thomas racial profiling–but that’s just a polite term to cover up what it really is: racist brutality. Call Timothy Thomas’s murder what it was: a lynching, carried out by the official guardians of law and order.

The police and the authorities said that Thomas shouldn’t have fled. But to be taken into custody by the Cincinnati cops means to have your face pushed into the ground or to be slammed against the door or whacked upside the head with a night stick.

Sometimes it means to be murdered by the police. Timothy Thomas, living in Cincinnati, had good reason to run. Over the last five years, 14 black men and one 12 year old–who was also driving without a license–have been killed by Cincinnati cops.

Yet not one cop in Cincinnati has been punished. Not one cop has been tried and convicted, or even fired!

The murder of Timothy Thomas was–as they say–the straw that broke the camel’s back, the last in a long line of officially condoned violence against the black population. After this last crime, masses of people flooded the city council chambers, confronted the politicians and other officials, demonstrated in the streets and rioted.

That only proves... how patient and restrained and moderate they have been up until now.

Patient? You bet. They were the model of patience, the soul of moderation while one young black man after another was murdered by vicious cops. If they finally decided that they had too much, they were right.

Yes, people have been patient, not just in Cincinnati, but everywhere. The patience of the population gave the police the idea they can take us backwards 50 years and more.

By going into the streets, the people of Cincinnati declared their patience had run out.