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Stop the violence, seize the opportunity

So far, it hasn’t been a real good summer for the city of Cincinnati. With just days left until the eyes of the world focus on the Queen City, the fact that Major League Baseball’s biggest event is coming to town is being overshadowed by a rash of violent incidents that have the heads spinning of city leaders looking for quick solutions before MLB arrives in town.

Over 50 shootings in the past three plus weeks have threatened to put a damper on what should be a shining moment for the city as Cincinnati becomes the baseball capital of the world, if just for a few days. Officials estimate that over 200,000 visitors, including this writer, will grace the Cincinnati streets through next Tuesday and it would certainly be nice if those guests could enjoy their visit without living in fear of seeing a gun pointed in their direction by some absent-minded trouble maker trying to get his mug on the six o’clock news.

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has quite a quandary on his hands, dealing both with the recent violence and then with nearly a quarter of a million people heading downtown that he and his officers have to protect. All it would take would be one violent incident during All-Star weekend to put a blemish on what needs to be the city’s ascent to one of America’s finest. Chief Blackwell was even originally scheduled to be out of town this weekend but wisely made the decision to stay in Cincinnati.

Who is to blame for all of the recent violence in the city? I’m no expert at all as I live out in what I consider to be a safe, peaceful rural area. Many blame the hip-hop culture that encourages killing and violence and forced the city to cancel a series of scheduled concerts on Fountain Square. I couldn’t tell you if hip-hop music promoted anything because I can’t understand one word of it, but the problem has to go deeper than a few musical artists. Perhaps the blame should go partially on the easy access to social media that anyone who has a cell phone, and who doesn’t now? Do you notice that whenever one of these violent attacks such as the one last weekend on Fountain Square occurs, someone always seems to produce a cell phone video? Do they crave the publicity?

To be a Cincinnati police officer right now must be a double-edged sword. You uphold your oath to serve and protect but in the back of your mind you have to be thinking of Officer Sonny Kim and his tragic murder. Now, you are faced with the task of protecting visitors from all over the world who are in town to celebrate America’s pastime while worrying if some group of misguided individuals will try to provoke you into a reaction that you don’t want to have. I have the utmost respect for police officers and what they do every day and as I travel downtown this weekend, I hope that I can feel safe when I see an officer likely on every corner.

With the Midsummer Classic coming to town, the attention needs to go to all the pomp and pageantry of the All-Star Game and not to the random violence of those who have no pride in their city. The best of the best in the baseball world will be in Cincinnati and the city needs to be on its best behavior and put on a show to remember. Many years from now, the 2015 All-Star Game needs to be remembered for the achievements on the field of play and not for some senseless bloodshed off of it.

My son and I will be in the city for events on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (still working on Tuesday) and I don’t want to look over my shoulder everywhere I go, wondering what that other guy is doing. I’m confident that will not happen and we will have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Fan Fest, the Futures Game, and the Home Run Derby. There may not be another All-Star Game in Cincinnati in my lifetime so this one has to be one to remember for me. I’m counting on Cincinnati to come through in the clutch. This is your chance Cincinnati, seize the opportunity!

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