I Don’t Understand

We’ve all seen the video.

The police officers pulled up to the playground, mere steps away from Tamir Rice, and one of them jumped out of the squad car before it was fully stopped. He started shooting in less than 2 seconds. There was no time – or distance – to accurately assess what – if anything – was going on or to de-escalate the (non-existent) situation. Tamir was executed.

The police officers stood there after shooting him and did nothing. They let him bleed on the ground for 4 minutes until an FBI agent who happened to be in the area arrived on the scene and administered first aid.  When Tamir’s 14 year old sister tried to run to him as he lay there on the cold, snowy ground, they tackled, handcuffed, and detained her in the squad car. When his mother arrived, they didn’t allow her to ride to the hospital in the ambulance with him. He was mortally wounded and alone. He died the next day.

He was black. 

He was playing with a toy gun. 

At a public playground.

In an open carry state.

He was a 12 year old CHILD. 12. 

He shouldn’t be dead and no one is going to held responsible for that. I don’t understand. It’s not ok.

It took less than 2 seconds for the police officer to decide to shoot Tamir, but it took over a year – until yesterday, 3 days after Christmas – for a grand jury to decide not to indict the officer who killed this CHILD.

Is it ok with you that the white officer who shot this 12 year old black CHILD within 2 seconds of arriving at the playground will not be held accountable? You watched the video with your own eyes and, still, its ok with you? Is it ok with you that this mortally wounded CHILD was deprived of first aid as he lay bleeding? You’re ok with no one being held responsible for that? You’re ok with the prosecutor’s litany of ridiculous defenses of the grand jury’s decision, including that Tamir looked like he was an adult because he was big for his age? Ohio is an open carry state. What exactly did Tamir do that warranted being shot to death? I’ve been asking that question since last night, with no reasonable answers. Why does an incompetent and unstable cop get the benefit of the doubt in the use of deadly force, especially when there’s a CHILD involved? The objective determination of this cop being incompetent was made by his former employer, a neighboring police department. So, again, how does a man who was too unstable to handle a gun on a gun range get the benefit of the doubt in this situation? Since when does a prosecutor encourage a grand jury NOT to issue an indictment? Don’t try to justify this to me. Not this time. Not here. You’re entitled to your opinion, but don’t post it here. I will never understand. It will never be ok with me.

The list of black people killed by the police in circumstances where deadly force isn’t necessary – where the suspects are unarmed or walking away, or even where stun guns could have been used instead of bullets – continues to grow. If the victims were white – and we all know this – public outrage would force resignations, criminal charges against the officers, and sweeping changes in police training.

Tamir Rice was a child, a CHILD who deserved to play with his toy gun at a playground without an incompetent, mentally unstable cop unleashing a bullet into his 12-year-old body, without care for his young life, without fear of retribution. 

The pain of another black child gone without consequence is overwhelming, almost as shocking as the shouts of people trying to explain how and why a 12 year old could have been responsible for his own death in this situation, almost as deafening as the silence of so many others who fool themselves – perhaps as I once did – into not seeing the truth.

I don’t know what else to say. Our collective silence is shameful.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — MLK