The New York Times editorial board condemns the shooting death of Cleveland teen Tamir Rice and the Cleveland officials who declined to charge the officer in the fatal shooting.
Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be alive today had he been a white 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014.
But Tamir, who was shot to death by a white police officer that day, had the misfortune of being black in a poor area of Cleveland, where the police have historically behaved as an occupying force that shoots first and asks questions later.
The Police Department’s disregard for life was fully evident in the way the officers behaved after shooting Tamir. A surveillance video shows them standing by the child for four minutes without giving medical assistance, which was finally provided by an F.B.I. agent who happened to be in the neighborhood. Officer Frank Garmback, Officer Loehmann’s partner, nonetheless tackled the wounded boy’s 14-year-old sister as she tried to rush to his side. One can only imagine her suffering as she watched in handcuffs from the back seat of the squad car while her brother lay bleeding on the ground.
In addition to portraying the killing as a result of a tragic misunderstanding, prosecutors have also suggested the officer’s decision to kill Tamir was shaped by the fact that the surrounding neighborhood had a history of violence and that the boy appeared to be older than 12 because he was big for his age.
These arguments sidestep the history of violent, discriminatory police actions that led up to this boy’s death. They also have the reprehensible effect of shifting the responsibility for this death onto the shoulders of this very young victim.
It's worth noting that since the officer involved in the shooting said Tamir "looked" 18 years old, and Ohio is an open carry state, why did he assume Tamir was a danger and shoot within seconds of arriving on the scene?
And where is the NRA defending the "right" of a person perceived to be an adult to carry a weapon in a state with open carry laws?
If Tamir had been a white teenage girl, he would be alive today. Period.