CINCINNATI (AP) – City and police leaders insisted Monday that Cincinnati’s downtown will be safe for All-Star Game visitors, in the aftermath of a violent weekend melee.
Mayor John Cranley and other city officials called a news conference over concerns raised after two police officers were hurt, a civilian was beaten, and seven people were arrested late Saturday. Videos of the confrontations circulated on social media.
Authorities said the city has been working for many months with state, local and federal agencies including the FBI and Coast Guard on security plans for the July 14 baseball game. Visitors are expected to pack the city’s downtown for the game and events leading up to it that include a Major League Baseball FanFest, celebrity softball game and a Saturday evening concert by pop music star Ariana Grande. Authorities said there will also be undercover officers, civilian “downtown ambassadors” and city anti-crime surveillance cameras monitoring the area.
“There are literally going to be hundreds – hundreds – of police officers visible and managing crowds at all times,” Cranley said, adding that he promises that downtown will be safe during the upcoming weekend and beyond.
MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said by email Monday that the league has been involved in the security planning for Cincinnati for more than a year and is keeping in communication on all aspects for “a safe All-Star experience for our fans.”
Cranley said there was a youth-oriented free concert last Saturday night that drew large numbers of unchaperoned young people amid other downtown Fourth of July events. He said the programming wasn’t appropriate for late at night, and there wasn’t sufficient planning and police staffing.
“Saturday night was an event-based problem,” Cranley said, adding that thousands of people attended a World Cup soccer watch party Sunday evening on Fountain Square without problems.
Police called in reinforcements Saturday night after people at Fountain Square began throwing fireworks, glass bottles and other objects. Two officers were injured – one by a glass bottle and another was punched in the face. Police put on riot gear and cleared the area. Police were also investigating the assault in a nearby area of a man whose face was bloodied. Police said he was treated at a hospital for a concussion and other injuries and release.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said violent crime has gone down in recent years in city’s downtown business area.
“So we’re not panicking now,” Blackwell said.
However, police and city officials have been working on a plan to counter a surge this year in gun violence across the city, underscored Sunday afternoon when a 6-year-old girl was seriously wounded by gunfire police said was meant for her step-father in the Avondale neighborhood near downtown.
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