Black Lives Matter Cleveland was established in December of 2015 one year after the murder of Tamir Rice. Inspired by the 21st Century “Black Lives Matter/Hands Up Don’t Shoot” Movement which was sparked by the systemic culture of violence in America which disproportionately claims the lives of Black and Brown people alongside a fatally biased cradle to the grave prison industrial complex.
Martin Luther King Jr. pointed to racism, capitalism and militarism as the three evils that plague an American society. More than 40 years after his prophetic witness, his words remain true. The New Jim Crow, per Michelle Alexander, looms from cradle to the grave in marginalized communities and provides evidence of such racial and socio-economic disparities in America.
Our beloved Tamir was taken from us at the age of 12-years old on November 22, 2014, in Cleveland, OH at Cudell Community Center. Two police officers, 26-year old Timothy Loehmann and 46-year old Frank Garmback, responded after receiving a police dispatch call describing a “young black male” brandishing a gun at people in a city park.
A caller reported that a juvenile was pointing “a pistol” at random people in the Cudell Recreation Center, and stated twice that the gun was “probably fake”. The officers reported that upon their arrival, Tamir reached towards a gun in his waistband.
Loehmann fired two shots within a second of arriving on the scene, hitting Tamir once in the torso. The toy gun was an Airsoft replica. Tamir died on the day after the shooting, his death ruled a homicide by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner.
We are mindful that while the gun was a toy, Ohio is an open-carry state. The responding officers did not offer aid to Tamir and four minutes passed before an undercover agent in the area arrived to offer aid to Tamir.
Prior to this, Tamir’s older sister in a state of trauma was restrained, handcuffed and placed in the back of the police cruiser after coming to her brother’s aid.