I wish I could apologize — for your death, for the lack of justice, for the pain we’ve caused your family and your community. But that apology would be meaningless, because it was all part of The Plan.
It was always The Plan to consider you, a young black boy, something that a young white boy would not be considered: a threat.
It was always The Plan to enable our police officers, the very people who are sworn to serve and protect young black boys like you, with the firearms and the free will to act violently and with subjectivity.
It was always The Plan to show no mercy: to shoot you after just 2 seconds, to provide no first aid, to not allow your sister to be by your side as you lay there with a bullet in your torso.
It was always The Plan to offer no justice for your death. The county prosecutor for your case himself said that while your death was a “tragedy,” it was not “by the law that binds us, a crime.” What’s the point of justice when your death is considered legal by The Plan?
I wish “sorry” were enough, but an apology is worthless when people of your country think that your murder is acceptable.
You see, The Plan is bigger than you. It is deliberate and it is exact.
The Plan is what allows America to erase away the lives of black children like you, as though you are nothing but a stray black mark on a large white piece of paper.
The Plan is not new. It has taken many forms, and in every shape, the intention has been to control, minimize, or erase black lives from our society. It spans time: to centuries ago, when slavery existed; to decades ago, when Jim Crow laws limited the freedoms of people of color; to today, when disenfranchisement takes many pernicious forms and activists have to fight to convey the message that black lives matter. And every step of the way, from lynchings to segregation to mass incarceration to employment discrimination to voting rights to propaganda to denying opportunities, The Plan has been to dehumanize black people. The Plan has been to make people of color seem less equal and to rob them of their freedom and their dignity.
Make no mistake, Tamir: your death is unfair. It is cruel and tragic. It is also a symptom of a larger problem, because The Plan allows for death.
Your death is a glimpse into a massive machine — a machine oiled regularly by money and power, where the gears are prisons and the gizmos are politics; where the fuel is supremacy and the output is labor and blood.
The Plan is a system that is so large and powerful that we can’t even begin to figure out who to blame. Do we blame the officer that pulled the trigger, or the policies that allowed him to? The citizens of this country for harboring biases and prejudices, or the media that reinforces derogatory stereotypes? The white people of this nation who built this country on the blood and backs of slaves, or the prisons that continue to enslave?
Or are we all culpable? As citizens of a democracy, are we not complicit in allowing The Plan to continue?
Tamir, I know these words won’t ever reach you. You won’t get the chance to read another letter again, to laugh with your friends again, or to hug your mother again. We took those chances away from you.
Before we take away more chances, cut short more lives, and break more bodies, it’s important that we fix The Plan — the broken systems of justice and mass incarceration that permeate and wreck communities of color.
There’s a lot of work to be done. We must re-build a justice system that actually allows for justice and that provides checks and balances against unfettered police power. Oppressive policies and laws need to be undone.
Rest in peace, Tamir.
With a heavy heart,
Your fellow Americans