The citywide curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"Despite the best efforts of the good citizens of our city, the violence on our streets is uncontrolled, and it runs rampant," said Mayor Charles Luken.
Luken met with officials at City Hall to consider asking the governor to call out the National Guard to help exhausted police, but said they had not reached a decision.
"I want to be clear, it's not necessarily tanks on our streets," Luken said early Thursday. "It is posting of guardsmen on the street to control the streets."
Luken, a Democrat, said he did not "believe the people rioting in the streets are protesting anything."
Black protests began after Saturday's police shooting of Timothy Thomas, 19, by a white police officer. But they have degenerated into random looting, assaults, vandalism and other crimes. Fox News Channel on Thursday showed a white woman who had been attacked by blacks for no reason.
Rioters fired sporadic shots in the mostly black and poor Over-the-Rhine district. A bullet struck the buckle of an officer's gunbelt. The officer was wearing a bulletproof vest and was not seriously injured.
Despite pleas for nonviolence by community leaders and clergymen, small groups of young black men roamed the streets overnight, causing scattered disturbances in Evanston, Avondale, Walnut Hills and the West End. Some threw rocks at passing cars, and a clothing store was ransacked.
At least 66 people have been arrested since the violence began Monday.
National NCAAP President Kweisi Mfume, who planned to visit Cincinnati Thursday to talk with city officials, urged Attorney General John Ashcroft to order a federal investigation.
"In addition to the FBI who are now investigating whether there were any civil rights violations in this death, we call on Mr. Ashcroft to order an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department's Pattern and Practices Division," Mfume said.
The New York Times said American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland on behalf of groups in March accusing Cincinnati of a "30-year pattern of racial profiling" by police. About 43 percent of Cincinnati's 331,000 residents are black.
Thomas was the fourth black man killed by police since November and the 15th since 1995.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said a county grand jury would open an investigation into the Thomas shooting next week to determine whether officer Steve Roach, 27, was justified in using deadly force. Roach was placed on paid administrative leave.
Thomas was wanted on 14 misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear in court on traffic offenses such as driving without a license and failure to wear a seat belt.
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