Target: Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland, Ohio
Goal: Urge the mayor to do all in his power to ensure reforms following the shooting of a 12-year-old boy by police, and a legal brief by the city faulting the boy for his death
Tamir Rice was playing in a park near his home when police arrived on the scene. Moments later Tamir lay dying. His sister was handcuffed to keep her from rushing to her brother’s side; the officers who shot him refused to administer first aid. He had been holding a toy gun, mistaken for a real one, yet video footage confirms the boy was given no opportunity to comply before being ruthlessly gunned down.
And when faced with a civil suit by Tamir’s family, the city of Cleveland chose to blame him for his horrific death. One officer involved in the shooting had a history of “reckless, wanton and willful excessive use of force” according to an earlier victim, while a second officer had shown a “dangerous loss of composure” and “lack of maturity, indiscretion” during his brief time with the nearby Independence police department. Their actions that fateful day clearly show that neither man was fit for duty.
To their credit, Cleveland officials have called for an independent investigation of this and any future deaths due to police use of force. The city’s mayor apologized for the outrageous wording of the legal brief, telling the press “We did something that…is hurtful to the family, that is disrespectful to them and the victim as well as the city of Cleveland.” But investigations and apologies will not prevent further loss of life.
No family should have to lose a treasured, innocent child because of poor hiring practices and a lack of training. Demand that the mayor lead the push for comprehensive reforms within the Cleveland police department.
Dear Mayor Jackson,
I applaud your decision to apologize for the insensitive and illogical legal brief that blamed Tamir Rice for his death at the hands of Cleveland police. It was indeed a poor defense of these officers’ actions.
But your apology, while justified, is not enough to end racial profiling, discrimination and the unnecessary use of force among your city’s law enforcement. I must insist that you take a lead role in calling for, and instituting, real reforms. Inspire your colleagues in the city government and police department to ensure the Tamir Rice tragedy is never repeated.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ty Wright via The New York Times