Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson on Monday said his visit to this northwest Ohio city goes beyond the police shooting of a woman and her year-old son last month.
Jackson, who has said the officer should be charged, didn't explicitly mention the SWAT team raid that left 26-year-old Tarika Wilson dead and her son wounded. Instead, Jackson said students should improve their interactions with people of other races and backgrounds. He cited Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's experiences as a model.
"He's learned to talk with people," said Jackson, who is supporting Obama.
Jackson's visit comes as tensions remain elevated in this city where one in four residents is black. SWAT officers on Jan. 4 burst into Wilson's home looking for her boyfriend. Police shot and killed Wilson, a mother of six. She was holding her son, Sincere Wilson, who was wounded and had a finger amputated.
Little else is known about what happened. Family members say Wilson was an innocent bystander. Police have said her 31-year-old boyfriend, who was arrested during the raid, was the target of a drug investigation.
Jackson told The Lima News earlier that authorities should indict police Sgt. Joseph Chavalia - the veteran officer who fired the shot that killed Wilson. Wilson was black. Chavalia, who is white, remains on paid leave as investigators determine whether he should be charged.
"That would be a step in the right direction," Jackson said. "She was killed in cold blood and that is unacceptable behavior. And not just the one guy. They all played a part in planning this."
Jackson's public appearance at the high school was more restrained, resembling a pep rally.
"Life is full of choices and consequences," Jackson told about 1,300 students. "There's a high road and a low road."
Jackson urged the students to their feet to chant: "I am somebody. Everybody is somebody. I know I can achieve."
Earlier in the day, Jackson met privately with about 40 pastors.
"Young people must learn about racial justice and equality," Jackson told reporters.
After the school event, Jackson and others gathered near the makeshift stage and handed out voter registration forms to about a hundred students. During his remarks, he did not mention Obama's chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"It's your vote, it's your world," Jackson said.