Tamir was a typical 12-year-old boy, from his friends' description. As a mother, I remember that age well: careening from affectionate, sweet boy to surly pre-teen, and then back again -- sometimes in the same five minutes.
Now he's a symbol, too. His death made him something more than what he was. Now he's yet another poignant reminder of just how precarious a status life in America holds for black people. That's a very long list.
I keep thinking about this, which I read last year:
... An account written by Case grad student and Cleveland City Council intern Shelly Gracon has been circulating over the past 24 hours or so. Here, she describes speaking with two girls who knew Tamir. One witnessed the shooting.
I want to do honor to 12 year old Tamir Rice (and write this out while it is fresh), so i am going to share with you what i just experienced. I was able to speak with two young girls. One witnessed the shooting, the other was out of town (she told me she felt bad cause he had asked her to go to the rec center with him earlier that day). both knew him very well and had only good things to say - well, i guess he could be a pain sometimes, I was told - we laughed. He was a gifted artist. He was very sensitive and creative. He had the BB gun because often times he was made fun of and bullied because he had learning disabilities. He never had it out. he never was a threat. His friend did say that BB guns look too real, and she thinks no one should have guns.
He and his friends went over to the RTA station across the street and a white man who was there called the police cause he must have seen the gun. They came running back to Cudell Rec and were just sitting together when the police arrived. The police pulled their guns on the boy, his friends backed away, and he said it was just a BB gun w/ no bullets and went to lift his shirt to show it to them and they shot him twice in the stomach. In front of not only his friends, but also other children, and i believe his sister as well. His sister was screaming and the police slammed her down on the ground - they actually hurt her they were so aggressive. his brother also came onto the scene and was upset and the police slammed him on the ground as well.
Meanwhile, this child is shot. His mother finds out and is heard screaming through the neighborhood. all this is happening in the middle of the day. Yesterday. At a rec center. He was very involved there, and knew everyone. he was described as shy and very talented at art. His friend told me about a drawing he made for her. She said she told him that god is always in his heart, and that he is special. These two girls really were such beautiful souls.
He told his friend that was there when he was shot earlier in the week that he thought something bad was going to happen to him. This boy was a gifted empath. He was NOT A THREAT TO ANYONE.
So, take that to the news.
"It's gone viral now, which I wasn't really prepared for," Shelly tells Scene. "Because I truly believe what I heard from them, I want to get the truth out — which is what people are relating to and sharing — but in the same regard, they're still children.
"I'm trying really hard to protect them," she says, "because they're so young." She spoke with the girls at Cudell Rec Center yesterday, teddy bear and candle in hand, amid an impromptu vigil.
In talking with the girls — "very very close if not best friends with this boy," Shelly says — she began to gather an impression of Tamir that hasn't surfaced widely in local media reports.
"I more so want people to understand who this boy was as a person," Shelly says. "He wasn't a thug. He wasn't what people are making him out to be at all. He was someone who had a lot of friends who hung out at that rec center all the time.
"He was bullied at school, body-slammed a lot at school — really, really picked on," Shelly adds. The girls told her that he had the airsoft gun to make himself feel safer. They relayed to her that he "never had any intent to harm anyone with it."
A nice kid, an artist. One who had friends and who hung out at the rec center, which is where good kids go when they're trying to stay out of trouble. (I used to go to the art program at my local rec.) A boy who was bullied, probably because he was sensitive and artistic. Can't have that, right?
Just a 12-year-old boy walking down the street, playing with a toy gun, being black. That's all it takes.
I have been so deeply sad since I heard the verdict, because the corrupt powers that be in Cleveland have decided even a nice kid like Tamir Rice isn't worth more than the jobs of the incompetent cops who shot him.
The ambitious district attorney (I know, redundant) did what they do. He stalled, he obfuscated, he put his humanity somewhere deep inside, where it couldn't get in the way of his political career:
The case was handed over from the Cleveland police to the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office, which spent months investigating the incident. Sheriff Cliff Pinkney declined to set a deadline to complete the investigation. “While it would be politically expedient to impose an arbitrary deadline, for the sake of the integrity of this investigation, I am not willing to do that,” the sheriff said. “Of course that does not mean that this investigation should drag out beyond what is reasonable.” Departmental policy stipulated that investigations be turned over to the prosecutor after 90 days, or by the end of February. But the investigation was still stalled in May. Mother Jones discovered that Loehmann and Garmback had refused to be interviewed despite multiple attempts.
As he waited for the investigation to be handed off to his office, McGinty was coming off a failed prosecution of a police officer who fired 49 shots at two unarmed people after a high-speed car chase that ultimately involved 59 police vehicles. McGinty reportedly fought for the indictment and conviction of the officer, antagonizing the police union.
But a judge acquitted the officer, spurring massive protests in Cleveland.
6 months after shooting: Ignores judge’s finding of probable cause
McGinty decided to set aside a municipal court judge’s recommendation to charge the officers. The judge found that there was probable cause to charge Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, and to charge Garmback with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
Frustrated by the prosecutor’s delay, clergy members and community leaders used a provision of Ohio law to bypass McGinty and ask the judge to weigh in. McGinty maintained that he would leave it up to the grand jury.
6 months after shooting: Asks sheriff to make the call
WKYC reported in June that McGinty tried to pressure the sheriff’s department into sending him a recommendation of whether or not the officers should be charged. The sheriff turned over a 224-page investigation of the incident to the prosecutor, but refused to include a finding, which would have given McGinty some cover in his decision. “One hundred percent, unequivocally, we do not recommend, advise, offer guidance to the prosecutor’s office when it comes to charges in this case,” Philip Angelo, special assistant to the sheriff, told the New York Times in June. McGinty has flatly denied that he asked for guidance from the sheriff.
Even without a recommendation of charges, the sheriff’s department report found that Loehmann shot Rice within two seconds of exiting his car, and that witnesses did not hear officers give Rice verbal commands before the shooting.
8 months after shooting: Dismisses petitions asking for indictment
Rice’s family delivered a petition with 60,000 signatures to McGinty’s office in July, demanding that he stop stalling on an indictment. “We’re here eight months later and there’s still no justice so him [McGinty] dragging his feet is an understatement,” Rice’s cousin told WKYC.
11 months after shooting: Releases report with biased experts
The reports released quietly on Saturday are not quite as neutral as McGinty has billed them. The two independent experts are a prosecutor, S. Lamar Sims, and a former FBI agent-turned-professor, Kim Crawford. The family’s attorney called them “hired guns” who have a record of sympathizing with police. The Guardian reports that two months before he was asked to investigate, Sims went on television to explain why the shooting of the12-year-old boy may be justified. “The community may react to facts learned later, for example, looking round the nation, say you have a 12- or 13-year-old boy, with a toy gun. We learn that later,” he said. “The question is, what did the officer know at the time, what should a reasonable police officer have known at the time when he or she took the steps that led to the use of physical force or deadly physical force.”
Crawford actually issued a memo justifying another police shooting in the 1990s, using a claim that law enforcement can shoot at a “fleeing felon” when they believe the person “poses a threat of serious physical harm.” But the Justice Department rejected her analysis and eventually charged the agent in question.
One formal federal prosecutor told WKYC the decision to release the independent reports to the public before they were presented to the grand jury “compromises the integrity of the Grand Jury process.”
And cops want to know why so many people hate them? Because they changed their motto from "To protect and serve" to "Protect your own ass first, at all costs." (Imagine if firefighters announced they weren't going into any more burning buildings because they might get hurt.)
And since cops now seem to be a bunch of scared children with bad judgment and guns, they feel completely justified in shooting first.
Except when you're white, of course.