Cincinnati’s police union wants City Councilman Christopher Smitherman to resign because he has aligned himself with the Black Fist, a group officers say advocates killing officers and hurting Jews.
Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Keith Fangman called for the resignation Thursday on 700 WLW while he was a guest on Bill Cunningham’s radio show. The union’s request was prompted by a list of the councilman’s actions—Fangman sarcastically called them Smitherman’s “greatest hits”—most recently, showing up at a court hearing for Kabaka Oba, the Black Fist leader charged with threatening to kill a West End man and then threatening to hurt him if he testified.
Smitherman could not be reached for comment on the union’s request that he resign. An aide in his council office said he was aware of the issue.
He has declined to comment publicly about his support of Oba. But the judge in the case, Kendal Coes, said the councilman—he’s seeking his second term—introduced himself before the hearing outside the courtroom and said he was there to support Oba. Coes did not say Smitherman asked him to do anything specific for Oba.
“If a white member of council . . . openly embraced a group of neo-Nazis or Ku Klux Klansmen and then showed up at their court hearing to support them, they would be run out of Cincinnati on a rail—and rightfully so,” Fangman said.
Oba remained in the Hamilton County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $250,000 bond. He says in a court document that he can prove he was elsewhere at the time of the alleged crime.