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Teen Violence: Racial assaults a national problem
CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Teen mobs at city events is not a Cincinnati thing, and it's been going on for years.
Evidence of teen violence goes back to the Wisconsin State Fair in 2011, Philly, Chicago and spring 2014 in Louisville. They all have in common the attacks are by black, teenaged boys and girls. And most of the victims are white. The race factor is not something officials like to talk about. One UC criminology professor says that silence could be deadly.
To some who called 911, the race factor was obvious. 11 victims filed reports saying they were kicked, punched or stomped by a group of black teenagers or young adults, boys and girls. Ten of the victims were white, one was Asian. Two reported racial slurs. Noelle Findlay was so certain the assault was racially motivated; the police report says hate crime.
At 12th and Clay, Noelle says about 15 teenagers stepped in front of the car her husband was driving, "Everyone swarmed the car; I was like, 'Go, go, go, get us out of here.'"
Noelle's husband, Chad Findley, told Local 12 News, "I had my window down four or five inches, he punched me in the left side of the face, someone else was on my wife's side." He said, "They were laughing the whole time having a great time"
Noelle Findley used to live in Over-The-Rhine. Her job was about helping mostly young black men find careers. She filed the police report as a hate crime because she believes there was no other motive.
"I feel like it needs to be addressed, people need to speak out say something not sweep it under the rug," Noelle said.
Dr. John Wright, a criminal justice professor at UC, said, "I think it is racist behavior, racist behavior when you target a group based on their race, sexual orientation, it's the very nature of a hate crime."
Dr. Wright has tracked what he considers mob behavior across the country over the last five years. Most recently in Louisville a mob of teenagers terrorized downtown. They looted a store, vandalized cars and assaulted passersby. Most of the victims were white. Louisville officials say there is no evidence crimes were racially motivated.
"We are unwilling to speak about race when it comes to crime because it is a sensitive matter," said Wright. "Allegations of racism ruins careers, ruin lives. The media remains silent or targets the people who bring up the issue."
Cincinnati police and city leaders publicly condemn the violence. Law and public safety committee chairman, Chris Smitherman, said those responsible will be held accountable. In a statement to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, Mayor John Cranley said nothing justifies, "hate speech or racial prejudice."
Pastor Peterson Mingo of Evanston said, "Not too many ways to explain that behavior, have to condemn it, can't be tolerated."
Pastor Peterson Mingo's community programs help young people become responsible, productive, respectful adults. Programs include "The Bulldogs," Evanston's football team, Boy Scout troop and a summer lawn care business. Sociologists weighing in suggest high unemployment and resentment fueled by segregation are possible causes.
Mingo says there is something else, "There is a thing about loyalty. You with me or you ain't. If you with me I'm getting ready to knock dude up side head lets go. It's not where you can say I'm not going to. You're either with me or you're not."
Everyone agrees prosecuting those responsible will send a powerful message. Dr. Wright says there is more to do; it's simple, talk about it.
Link to more of Dr. Wright's interview
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