On Monday, prosecutor Tim McGinty announced that an Ohio Grand Jury would not be issuing an indictment in the tragic 2014 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer while he was playing with an airsoft toy gun in a park, and succumbed to his massive injuries a day later (arguably because Tamir didn't receive first aid for 4 minutes after being shot). McGinty went on to explain that because the young boy was holding a pellet gun at the time he was shot, it was deemed "reasonable" that the police officer would consider himself in danger, and shoot the boy in self-defense. Twitter reactions to the Tamir Rice ruling are coming in fast and furious... Or rather, fast and completely, utterly exhausted. Many are regarding McGinty's "explanation" as victim-blaming, essentially holding Tamir responsible for his own death.
On Nov. 22nd, 2014, Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call that there was a "guy with a gun," the witness also stating that the gun was "probably a fake." Shocking and difficult footage of the shooting (which I won't link to) shows the two police officers driving up on the scene and, within seconds, Officer Loehmann shooting the boy.
The incident added to an already tense, if not broken relationship between the black community and local law enforcements that has left people feeling defeated, tired, and sadly, not too surprised that these horrific situations are continuing. Now that the Grand Jury has decided not to indict the officer that killed Tamir, a little boy playing with a toy gun, it is once again painfully clear that people are exhausted from all of it. People are no longer as enraged as they once were, or as surprised as they once were, but sadly, simply fed up, emotionally fatigued, and ready to be done with the world we've apparently decided it's acceptable to live in.
Feelings of hopelessness, loss and disgusting inevitability were shared by twitter users around the country, making one thing obvious: the country has had enough of black people (and children) being killed without consequences, and beyond that, the country is tired of having enough.
The gun violence in 2015 was staggering, only adding to people's frustration and exhaustion. While most Americans support gun control, many don't believe in blaming guns for criminal shootings. In this instance, however, the Grand Jury has decided it is reasonable to blame toy guns.
The Grand Jury stating that Tamir Rice "appeared older than he really was" and gave the police officer reason to "fear for his life" mirrors the anti-black sentiments surrounding the death of Michael Brown, in which former officer Darren Wilson described Brown as a "demon" and "Hulk Hogan," stating he was more animal than human. Riddled with racism and fatal, centuries-old, fearful perceptions of people of color that now, apparently, apply to 12-year-olds too.
Many of the black lives that have been killed at the hands of police have later been blamed for their own deaths. Eric Garner, who yelled out "I can't breath" before being killed by police in an attempt to subdue him, was posthumously criticized for "resisting." Now, police officers are blaming 12-year-olds for playing in the park because they "looked older" and "should know better."
It is clear that the seemingly never-ending trend of black lives being killed at the hands of police officers has taken its toll. Whether people knew Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott (the list, sadly goes on) or not, they feel emotionally invested and connected.
The tweets are as clear and devastating as the decision itself: The most appalling is that we are about to enter 2016, when it feels like we're back in 1954. We haven't made the progress we should have made; we haven't ended racism, we have simply given it a new name and are now consistently refusing to prosecute it. And until we all, collectively, come together and decide that this isn't the kind of world we want to live in, or raise our children in, nothing will change and more 12-year-old children of color will be blamed for their own deaths.
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