Article #18: Police, Race Relations
On the same day of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Million Man March, the 2-second killing of a 12-year-young black boy by a white police officer is deemed “reasonable.”
How long? Too long. How many? Too many.
On Saturday, October 10, 2015, reports from retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford and Denver prosecutor Lamar Sims, two ‘use-of-force’ experts, stated that, although tragic, the shooting of Tamir Rice, in essence, made sense.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking. However, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat,” stated Sims.
As an at-risk youth advocate who is trying to positively change the path of so many boys of color within struggling communities, what do I say to this?
How can I change their lives if they have no life left within their bodies due to “objectively reasonable” death by a white cop at as young as age 12, in a park, next to a picnic table?
If that doesn’t show you the state of America regarding race relations and the justice system, then what will?
Just look at the older white woman in the photo above.
The disdain with which she’s seemingly looking at Tamir and the person taking the photo is simply a visual manifestation of what has unfortunately become increasingly apparent in the U.S., yet also fortunate due to the inherent racism, bigotry, and injustice in this country finally ‘coming out of the closet.’
In recent years, people of color have been increasingly getting harassed and/or killed by white police officers at alarming rates.
The officer who shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-young black boy, was Timothy Loehmann, 26-year-young white man, and, if you know anything about Timothy Loehmann, it is that, in the realm of law enforcement, he is anything but “objectively reasonable.”
During training at his previous job with the Independence police department in Ohio, Loehmann was described by IPD’s Deputy Chief Jim Polak (in a letter dated Nov. 29, 2012 that was in Loehmann’s personnel file) as being “distracted” and “weepy,” not being able to follow simple directions, not being able to communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and having a “dismal” handgun performance record.
So tell me: How can one believe that a police officer with that history can somehow be ‘objective’ in his/her reasoning?
In that same Nov. 29th letter, the Deputy Chief concluded, “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies” and recommended that the department part ways with Loehmann. Yet…
…16 months later, he was hired on in Cleveland, OH as a patrolman without the City of Cleveland even looking at his previous poor job performance reviews from the Independence police department.
So, what, his history doesn’t count when it comes to ‘use-of-force’? Recommendations from his superiors don’t count when it comes to ‘use-of-force’?
That’s ironic, seeing as though the minute a person of color is killed, the first thing that seems to be pushed in the media is their history, and usually mainly the negative side of it, no matter how minute. However…
…here we have an officer who was clearly not qualified for a job with this level of pressure and responsibility. Yet…
…that prior understanding and discussion didn’t seem to come into play when it came to judging his decision to shoot 12-year-young Tamir Rice.
This ‘killing by cop’ was a drop in the bucket of a long-list of killings in recent years of people of color by white police officers, be they in compliance of so-called ‘lawful police orders’ or not.
These killings have been largely considered race-based and not criminal-based by the masses within the race being killed, but seemingly the opposite within the race of the individual cops doing the killings.
With this particular incident, one can argue that this was not a case of racism, but simply a case of incompetence, and they could be right. However…
…how Loehmann saw 12-year-young Tamir Rice as “…um, black male, maybe 20…” in supposedly an ‘open carry’ state, yet shot him within literally 2 seconds of pulling up to him, seems to speak for itself.
It supports the long-held, proven belief of police officers, especially white officers, seeing people of color as a bigger threat than we actually may be.
Isn’t that inherently racist?
Yet, here we are talking about how independent ‘use-of-force’ experts for the police department have found this killing, which is based in that underlying racism, “objectively reasonable.”
How can relationships between police officers, prosecutors, judges, just the entire justice system improve if, whenever a situation occurs that places them in a negative light, it turns from the justice system to the just-us system; them closing ranks and immediately protecting their own, even when their own is guilty of something so heinous?
Wait! I’ve think I’ve got it!
Maybe they think it’s a game of Clue®?
Who: Tamir Rice, child
So, to them, who did it was ‘Tamir Rice, with the (toy) gun, in the park,’ and not ‘Timothy Loehmann, with the (real) gun, half-way hanging out of the police car.‘
Maybe that’s why it’s been so increasingly easy for cops to kill black people recently, because they deem killing ‘Any Random Person of Color, with the Dark Skin, on U.S. Soil‘ a game, with ‘death by cop’ being a “reasonable” play, strategically.