On November 22, a 12-year-old boy was murdered outside a recreation center on Cleveland’s west side. After a very brief confrontation with the Cleveland police, Tamir Rice was shot when officer Timothy Loehmann believed he was reaching for a gun.
The incident that ensued was caught on camera. The grieving family of Tamir Rice urged for the video of the shooting to be made public. What the video shows, and what more information tells us as time passes, is that the officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice was deemed unfit to be a police officer while he was with Independence, Ohio’s police office.
However, despite the increasing amount of evidence that suggests that Timothy Loehmann was an unfit police officer, many media outlets still focus the blame on Tamir Rice and the fact that he had a gun.
Yes, Tamir Rice had a (toy) gun.
But Tamir Rice was also 12.
He, like many other young people, and even many older people in Cleveland, had a gun.
But of course, who better to target for “breaking the rules” than a 12-year-old boy?
Cleveland citizens have taken their indignation to the streets and have shut down traffic in downtown Cleveland. Recently, a group of concerned young adults crashed a Cleveland City Council Meeting to voice their demands, which included:
- The immediate dismissal of Public Safety Director Michael McGrath and
indictment of Timothy Loehmann
- The implementation of body cameras by Jan. 25, 2015
- The abolition of the internal Cleveland police investigation process and establishment of an elected civilian review board
- That all body camera data will fall under jurisdiction of the civilian review board
However, while many people are rallying for the police department to step up, others call for the onus of solving this problem to be placed on the inner city Cleveland community. Cleveland residents have made hundreds of statuses for parents to “take more responsibility” for their children. Even more so, many have claimed that Tamir Rice simply shouldn’t have had his toy gun on him, and that his death is his own fault.
Ramone, a Senior at a Cleveland area university who grew up near where Tamir Rice was killed, said, “This is the way that we’ve been brought up. Young people in Cleveland, and in lower income cities all over America, learn at a very young age that guns, knives, domestic violence and drug use are commonplace. Toy gun or real gun, it’s not a surprise that Tamir Rice had one. What’s depressing is that the police immediately assumed he was a criminal and then took his life—and that the people who are blaming Tamir Rice for his own murder are ignoring the pervasive culture of violence in communities like his own. Tamir was a product of the environment that he was raised in. Tamir could have easily been me 10 years ago.”
Instead of targeting the police force, local community activists have organized a toy gun buyback program to be held at a local Boys and Girls Club during the upcoming week. In surrendering a toy gun, Cleveland youth will receive a comic book.