Hate crime charges sought in July 4 beating


Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has reconsidered and is asking Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to pursue hate crime charges in the Government Square attack that left a white man beaten and bloody on the Fourth of July.

Police Officer Alicia Essert called the beating “anti-white” in the incident report, but at a news conference about the incident, Cincinnati Police Capt. Mike Neville backed off that claim, calling it a “mistake.”

A news release from the police department issued Wednesday did not explain the reversal.

Christopher McKnight, 27, of Albany, Indiana, suffered a broken nose and concussion in the beating. He was released from the hospital Sunday night.

Two officers were injured while trying to control a crowd at Fountain Square that spilled onto Government Square.

A melee broke out on Fountain Square at about 11 p.m. Saturday just as a hip-hop concert was ending. Officers on the square called for back up, which brought 60 officers to help. Some donned riot gear.

McKnight was attacked on Government Square as the crowd spread out from Fountain Square. Cell phone video showing the attack quickly went viral. Six people were arrested during the incident. A seventh person was cited.

Nobody has been charged with a hate crime. The Cincinnati Police Department has given Deters their evidence. It is up to his office whether to pursue the charge with a grand jury, who will make the final decision.

Mayor John Cranley said “Saturday night was unacceptable”, but called it a one-time event. He blamed poor planning for the problems, including too few officers and allowing a concert aimed at teenagers to end after the city’s curfew.


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