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Credit: Japera Benson / For The Lantern

“Cincinnati Goddamn” brings audience attention to police brutality and social change

With the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the debate of Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter, the documentary “Cincinnati Goddamn” came at an opportune time. “Cincinnati Goddamn” covers 15 unarmed black men killed by the Cincinnati Police Department, primarily focusing on the untimely deaths of Roger Owensby Jr. and Timothy Thomas. Though taking place from 1995 to 2001, its relevance is still seen 14 years later.

On Wednesday night, more than 1,000 people came to view the film at Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts. The event was also live streamed at the Mansfield campus.

This film examined the negative relationship between the citizens of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Police Department.  The film also covered the trials of the police officers charged with killing the men and the rioting that followed the officers’ acquittals. “Cincinnati Goddamn” followed the long-lasting impact of the victims’ families and, ultimately, the city of Cincinnati.

Following the film, there was a Q&A session with April Martin and Paul Hill, co-directors of the film; Iris Roley, a community activist and monitor of the Cincinnati Police-Community Collaborative Agreement; and Rhonda Williams, the director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. Treva Lindsey — an OSU assistant professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies — served as the moderator.

During the Q&A session, Williams said they are looking for ways to enforce “education instead of militarization of police forces.”

Martin said that she hopes for “the police to be part of, or at least understand the community they work in.” Martin added that if that doesn’t work, “(we) can start to police our own communities.”  

“Cincinnati really started it all and it really goes hand-in-hand with the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri,” said Ginette Rhodes, a first-year in exploration, that was in attendance.

Rhodes is from the St. Louis area herself. She noted that she thought the film was very powerful and that it should be used as an educational tool to help people understand police brutality and affect change.

Hannah Sanders, a first-year in business and a Cincinnati native, was also in attendance.

“I was only 3-years-old when it happened, so I’ve grown up hearing about it, but I’ve never seen it like that,” Sanders said.

Co-director Hill said he foresees “Cincinnati Goddamn” to be available on DVD or online sometime next year.


  1. Great Article! Well Articulated. These types of forums are greatly needed for the next generation of potential Political Leaders/Activists/Community Organizers/Business Leaders/Law Enforcement Officials/Parents/Citizens. Did I miss anyone? This is an issue that everyone needs to be aware of. Keep up the great work OSU in keeping the subject matter ALIVE!

    • Well said that forums might address ALL elements of the community. However, to leave discussion of portrayed problems, including allegations of” police brutality”solely to such radical activist groups as “black lives Matter”will only serve to continue civil violence, rioting, and revenge crimes, indeed muders of policement as we now see almost daily.

  2. There are, no doubt, a very few cases of “police brutality” that occur amidst the tens of thousands of police arrests of a total population. Of this vast total of arrests, blqcks form a disproportionate %, perhpas well over 30%. Overall, most allleged”brutality”cases involve marginal situations where the victim is a known criminal of record or presents an apparent threat to police officers or bystanders. Of course, theseCan and should be investigated independently of either police and community special interests, but also should b free of mob mentality, premature judgements of guilt , especially when “egged on” by professional race baiter hustlers like Al Sharpton,etc.and certainly by a mainstream media that feeds on
    ratings impact fueled by the oft spectacular violence of riots and marches and political pandering to PC
    radical leftists and special interest groups (like the NAACP,”Black Lives Matter”,etc.).What’s most inaccurate is the portrayal of thugs and threatening criminals-many with weapons, in many of these cases, as innocent “victims”. The results of this completely biased perspective is that a climate of vicousness and license to wage war against police and non-blacks; many obviously revenge motivated by
    actual black racism. To wit , a thug and robber, bully in Ferguson is still idolized by this movement as an innocent and the “hands up, don’t shoot” farce that has been completely disproven by no less than the US AG investigations. And worse now, we see a movement that advocates violence and . indeed , the murder of cops; this clearly demonstrated several times over both by “Black Lives Matter” (as if no other lives ,matter?) and such actual “kill the pigs” demonstrations in NY city which timed with an actual assassination of two police officers, who were incidentally both minorities. Further eulogization of criminals as some kind of heroes is just absurd and certainly not justice under the law. The worst result, however,is that these radical groups don;t address the real issues of black on black violence and murder, nor the root causes of black social problems such as %of unwed mothers”, lack of the disciplines of taking self responsibility and respect for authority (as in schools, established laws and regulations, police enforcement of the law). Until blacks themselves address these more profound real social problems within
    their own community,the crime and murder rates will continue to cripple the black communities.
    Why don;t the activist groups instead the wonderful role models of such people a brain surgeon who grew out of the ghetto; and just another example the financial guru who appears on TV news and market analysis programs, just to name a few. Good models of Male leadership are most needed in households where no fathers are present positively influentia.l

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