CINCINNATI – A U.S. Justice Department investigation of Cincinnati and a separate discrimination lawsuit against the city could disappear after the nine-member City Council unanimously approved plans to settle the matters.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2001, alleges a decades-long pattern of racial discrimination by the city against blacks. The lawsuit's aim: a permanent ban on racial profiling by police — a practice the police department denies using.
Three weeks after the lawsuit was filed, the police shooting of an unarmed black man touched off three weeks of riots. The officer involved was acquitted of all charges.
The settlement has already been approved by the Cincinnati Black United Front; approval from the Fraternal Order of Police and American Civil Liberties Union is pending. The parties have until Tuesday to reach a settlement, which must then be approved by a federal judge.
Approval by the Fraternal Order of Police requires a vote of its 1,020 members. Voting began Thursday, and results are not expected until early Sunday, according to Union officials. Without approval from the union, the settlement could fall apart, according to the plan's supporters.
"I think all of us are concerned about the F-O-P," City Council member David Crowley said.
In addition, not all matters are resolved by the settlement. Among them is $600,000 in attorneys' fees for the plaintiffs. The city is seeking private funds to pay those costs, according to Alphonse Gerhardstein, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The federal investigation into alleged discrimination was resolved with recommendations to change police policies, training, and record-keeping.
"Let us move forward as a community and make this whole thing work," Mayor Charlie Luken said after the vote.
Some activists disagreed, simultaneously praising the decision to proceed with settlements and saying that a boycott intended to keep conventions and entertainers out of the city should continue.
"There remain some issues of police misconduct that have not been dealt with, so a boycott will continue," activist William Kirkland said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.