This post may not be popular but I feel the need to get it off my chest. I am hurt and disgusted and I just have to say my peace because I am so angry that I can't see straight.
I don't write this as a minority. I have been unfairly judged for my hair color, my sex, and my disability but never because of the color of my skin. So, I wont pretend that I know what that is like. I do not. I am not writing this as someone who judges others because I don't, except in this case. No, I am writing because I am a mother...of a twelve year old boy.
We have become a country afraid....so afraid of stigmas, bias, and discrimination that we have killed in the name of fear. We have been so riddled with fear that we have lost all of our common sense and in many cases, our compassion. Fear makes us do stupid things like suspend a seven year old for eating a poptart into the shape of a gun, threatening an eight year old for drawing a ninja Halloween costume at school with suspension, and punishing a five year old girl with suspension and a forced psychiatric examination for threatening to shoot another student with a Hello Kitty bubble gun that shoots...bubbles.
And last year, what can only be described as asinine behavior by adults, turned fatal.
When I look at a picture of Tamir Rice, I see a happy, normal, typical boy. I see my son because I am a mother and all of our children are equal. All children are precious. He is was the same as my son. He was in the same grade. He seemed silly, and goofy, and intelligent like all twelve year old's are. No, they are not the same race and but I don't see race. I see someone's child. I see someone's baby.
Tamir Rice was a twelve year old boy who was given a toy gun by a friend to play with. He did what many kids would do, he went to a park and played with it. For that, he was gunned down by a police officer. It took two seconds from the time the officer pulled up until the officer opened fire on a twelve year old boy. His fourteen year old sister was wrestled to the ground and arrested for running towards her fatally injured brother and his mother was threatened with arrest if she didn't calm down when told. Tamir laid on the pavement in his local park in a pool of his own blood for four minutes before he was helped. He received no first aid by the police officers. He received treatment from an FBI agent that happened to be in the area. Apparently, his size was menacing at 5'7" and 191 lbs. Menacing enough that the armed police officer feared for his life from a boy armed with a toy. I suppose now, if your child has a growth spurt it can be used as an excuse to shoot them by substandard police officers....and they will be backed by the city that employs them.
It hurts to see the video. It was even more hurtful to hear what the city's attorneys of Cleveland Ohio said today about the shooting/murder of Tamir Rice.
Tamir and his family “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts. . .,” and they added that Tamir caused his own death “by the failure. . . to exercise due care to avoid injury.”
Later on the mayor apologized saying, "In an attempt to protect all of our defenses we used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive, very insensitive to the tragedy in general, the family and the victim in particular, So we are apologizing today as the city of Cleveland to the family of Tamir Rice and to the citizens of the city of Cleveland for our poor use of words and our insensitivity in the use of those words."
So as a mother of a twelve year old, I just want to say this....a twelve year old is a child. They are not held responsible if they drink, the person that gives it to them is. They are not held responsible if they are given drugs, the drug dealer is. They are not held responsible if they accidentally burn themselves on the stove. They are not old enough to consent to sexual activities, go to a bar, buy a pack of cigarettes, or drive a car. They are not put in the adult justice system if they are offenders because they are juveniles. If you fail to provide food, shelter, or adequate care for a twelve year old, they are taken away. They are not permitted to call the school and call in sick, a parent has to do that. They are not allowed to get a job, live on their own, buy certain video games without their parent's consent, or even see movies rated higher than PG13 without their parents in a movie theater. Hell, you have to sign a freaking permission slip for them to go on a freaking field trip for chrissakes, because they are too young to give permission on where the school takes them. They are not held responsible because at twelve years old they are not responsible....they are children.
He was being immature and "irresponsible", according to the city of Cleveland, because that is what kids do. Just like we did when we were kids. Most people in this country have played cops and robbers, or have made a poptart into a gun, or for God's sake pointed their finger like one when they were small. It's normal. What is not normal is being gunned down and then accused of being responsible for your own death because you did what all kids do. And I think adults have forgotten that. I think adults have forgotten what they were like at twelve years old.
My twelve year old is smart, funny, sarcastic, and brilliant. He is a great kid but he does stupid things, sometimes. And he does that because, like all twelve year old's, his brain has not yet fully developed enough to understand the ramifications and all of the consequences for his actions. But you know who does understand all of the ramifications and consequences? The guy that shot Tamir in the chest and claimed that he was a big twenty something year old black male. The guy who lied about the shooting. The guy who failed to protect and serve a twelve year old boy and ended up killing him instead.
If it wasn't horrible enough that an innocent child was shot because of a toy, to purposely and willfully not offer first aid to a dying child for whatever the reason, is completely unacceptable. Period.
I am not against the police. There are some great police officers out there. This is not about the decent hardworking police officers who do their job. This is about those who do not. As for the city attorneys and mayor, there is no apology you could give that would make what has happened, right. There is nothing that can be said that would bring Tamir back or erase the pain that his family will face for the rest of their lives. But if you were to give one, it might help to not bother to apologize about the wording some asshat lawyer made about responsibility and apologize for the death of the beautiful young man who had done nothing wrong but was failed in every way by the people that were supposed to keep him safe. Failed by the police officer that swore to serve and protect him. Failed by the justice system that excused his murder. Failed by the city that refuses to accept responsibility for his death and then failed again by the city trying to put what was their fault onto an innocent, unarmed boy. Because Tamir didn't kill himself he was killed by a police officer and there is a difference.
I do not accept the apology of the mayor of Cleveland. Such drivel is back tracking and covering up what appears to be the unequivocal stupidity of a group of people that can not seem to understand the difference between a child's life and an adult's decisions. I hear a lot of police officers say that at the end of the day they want to go home to their families and I get it, but maybe Tamir wanted to go home to his family that night too. And sadly, they both could have if the officer had not decided to shoot first and ask questions later. Yes, the gun looked real but even the 911 caller said he thought it was fake. There was not an orange tip on the end but the police officer didn't even know that because the toy gun was in Tamir's waist band. Even if there was an orange tip he would not have known until he pulled the toy out of the boy's pants as he lay there dying. Tamir was not given a chance to explain. He, much like the poptart kid, was judged guilty by an adult and punished on only the merit that something looked like a gun, except this time that judgment came with a death sentence.
For the mayor to say that the attorney's words were "insensitive" is ridiculous. What they said was hurtful, smug, ignorant, arrogant, and shameful. Insensitive is when you bump into somebody and forget to say "excuse me". Blaming the victim is not "insensitive" it is inexcusable.
And you would think that of all the education the attorneys and mayor and city "higher ups" had to get where they are today, they would have more sense than God gave a gnat to understand that. But what do they care, Tamir wasn't their son.
To accept this behavior is folly. Tamir isn't my son and yet he is. As is the poptart kid, the kids that made legos into guns and got in trouble at preschool. So is the girl with the bubble gun and the kid drawing Halloween costumes in class. These are all of our children. To accept such horrendous behavior and consequences and lack of responsibility based on our fear is dangerous, not to mention wrong. The city should care because Tamir is their son. He is all of our sons and he did not deserve to be mowed down in a hail of bullets on a freaking playground and there is nothing that can be said or misconstrued to change that fact. To accept the way he died and the lack of responsibility taken by those that killed him is the same as saying that you accept this happening to every child. Because he...was...just...a...child. He was twelve.