Is Cleveland in a State of Ignorance?
It’s almost a year later and an investigative report was released that made a conclusion about the Tamir Rice case. An Ohio prosecutor claims in the official report that the officer’s choice to shoot the boy was “reasonable” given the situation. This prosecutor's conclusion was released before any grand jury decision had been made. (full story: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/10/tamir_rice_shooting_was_tragic.html#incart_maj-story-2)
This story is not new. Different versions of this story are happening throughout the country. Different versions of the same problem surrounding racist police brutality. However, the death of Tamir Rice happened in my own home city, so it gave me closer and personal perspective of racial tensions and how it affects different communities.
Tamir Rice was killed in the park next to the school that I went to first grade in. He probably went to that same school, and played in the same playground I did. There’s many differences between him and I. But the main difference? If I was in exact situation, as a twelve year old, clutching a toy gun in my coat, I would still be alive. Because I am white.
Seeing a situation like this blow up and expand in my city gave me a whole new view of my view of the #BlackLivesMatter movement because it woke me up just a little bit. It empowered me, because I was seeing people of my community as well as fellow college students spreading their opinions on the issue. But seeing this ordeal happen in my city, also made me disappointed. For one, the situation was much easier brushed under the rug than the Brown and Garner case. Cleveland’s police force took especially long to come out with a report on Tamir Rice’s body. After 8 months, the family couldn’t wait anymore and was forced to finally put their son to rest. However, simultaneously also getting rid of important evidence that could have indicted the officer. The apathetic and slow pace attitude of the police in Cleveland just seemed appalling and just plain intentional.
Now the story is back in the light again. It’s almost a year later and Tamir is still gone, and still without justice. And better yet, his death is being called as “reasonable”. Not much has changed. The word “reasonable” just cuts like knife. It’s sending a message loud and clear that is undermining the entire black community in CLE.
There is a lack of awareness in Cleveland which is confusing and worrying. I’m currently in an African American Experience in Cleveland class and we are talking about why the killing of Tamir Rice wasn’t seen as big of a deal as other cases such as Brown, Garner, etc. Does Cleveland have an ignorance problem? Maybe. Mostly because the news has diffused and stifled the story so many times, that it’s almost hard not to forget about it. I personally remember the story every time I drive past the Cudell center and my old house. And I know I’m not the only one who isn’t going to forget. The fact that the police took 8 months to release a report on Tamir’s body was in of itself a punch to the gut. It was strange seeing it happen in my city, so obviously. The Cleveland Police department was obviously ignoring and avoiding the issue at hand. And they were doing this because they knew that there wouldn’t be enough people from the Cleveland population who would make a fuss about it.
It pains me to see all the community members who are going on protests and voicing their opinions and raising money for the Tamir Rice case. It saddens me that far too often their voices are going unheard, because there are just simply not enough of us who are speaking out loud enough. There are plenty of powerful Cleveland voices, but the vast amount are not being heard and are not being noticed by local media. I feel like Cleveland could really use Tamir’s story as an amplifier for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But we are far too often being stifled by too many ignorant citizens, but mostly by apathetic local journalism.
Enough. Cleveland is good enough to have a bigger uprising in the name of this twelve year old that died too soon. We have a reason to be angry. We have a purpose; to be just as upset about this issue, and use it as an example of how the police and criminal justice system in this country has been flawed for far too long.
We must be amplified. This report is a perfect wake up call. Social justice activists and black empowerment groups across the country are analyzing this case from top to bottom. My twitter feed has been filling up with the vast amount of arguments and criticisms of the released report. People aren’t surprised, but they are saying this is just the continuation of undermining the seriousness of issue at hand. So please, listen to your fellow local activists, read the news and better yet, submit something to the local news. Because it is scary that such a widely acclaimed case that is defining a national movement, seems to becoming glossed over in the city it happened in.
Stay on top of the facts, spread awareness via social media & urge your local news stations to talk about the story more!
Activists to follow on Twitter:
@parkerlewisftw (local to CLE)
@msgoldsby74 (local to CLE)