The Riverfront Classic Football Game

My name is Monica R. Williams and I am an African American citizen of the city of Cincinnati and a member of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati. I am writing today to make you aware of the situation in Cincinnati in hopes that you will do all within your power to persuade Dr. Gainous and the Athletic Director at FAMU to refuse to play at the upcoming Riverfront Classic that is scheduled to take place in Cincinnati, Ohio. As you may or may not be aware the African American community in this city is in bondage and we are trying desperately to free ourselves from the vestiges of racism, prejudice and discrimination that have had a stranglehold on our community for many many years. Several civil rights groups have called a boycott of the city. We are asking that no one from outside of the city come into the city for any reason. Are you aware that the police in Cincinnati have killed 17 black males since 1995? The significance of that figure lies in the fact that during that same time period the police have not killed any white males or others. To add insult to injury not one police officer has been successfully prosecuted, disciplined and or fired for any of the killings. The price of the life a black man in the city of Cincinnati it seems is just the cost of a bullet. We have a brutal police force in this city that has abused its power on more occasions than I can count. Not only has the African American community faced police brutality but we have also been denied equal access to and protection of the law. It is true that there is a Collaborative Agreement poised to address some of the issues that I have mentioned, it is my opinion that this Agreement is not strong enough to solve the problems of police accountability. This police department has allowed white police officers to maintain their police powers even when they under indictment for killing black males; however last week just one day after the National Urban League made its announcement to hold its 2003 convention here the highest ranking African American police officer Asst. Chief, Lt. Col. Twitty was stripped of his police powers for what has amounted to a fender bender involving a city owned vehicle. Not only was Lt. Col. Twitty stripped of his police powers but also he was the subject of a press conference in which the Chief of Police publicly announced the suspension of Lt. Col. Twitty thereby causing him undue humiliation. In addition we have African American families whose sons have lost their lives at the hands of the Cincinnati Police Department who through no fault of their own have not reached a settlement with the city to be compensated for the loss of life. In fact one of these cases has dragged on since 1999. Yet in a case where the victim of police brutality did not die and was an elderly white male who was body slammed by an officer, not only was the victim and his family compensated to the tune of $700,000.00 but the officer in question was later promoted to the rank of sergeant. In my opinion this sends a message to the community that the lives of black men are without value while the injuries of their white counter parts are valued. Our call for justice, equality and peace has not gone unheard. In addition to the National Urban League, which canceled its 2003 convention and the Progressive Baptists which also canceled its convention, we have had artists in the persons of Bill Cosby, Wynton Marsalis and Whoopie Goldberg refuse to perform here as a means of honoring our boycott. We ask the FAMU community to do likewise. It is my hope that you would join us in this effort as we strive for justice, freedom from brutality, and economic inclusion for all by asking the powers that be at FAMU to honor our boycott as well.

Thank you,Monica R. Williams2919 Cleinview AvenueCincinnati, Ohio 45206513.961.3589

For further boycott information please see following websites: