Shutdown for Justice: Tamir Rice

Cleveland, OH (TFC) – It has been one year since Tamir Rice was murdered by Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann. There has been zero justice or closure for the Rice family. The community is still feeling the pain of this senseless murder and planned to express their feelings through a weekend of planned events in honor of Tamir. The first of four events planned was hosted by Rise Up October, Resolution Club, Stop Mass Incarceration and Puncture the Silence. These groups are the ones to credit for bringing such a diverse crowd together consisting of many races, ages and mothers of those killed by police. They were holding signs, speaking with passion and all had determination in their hearts. After roughly 45 minutes of assembling the organizer decided it was time to hit the streets.

 

The march began on the east side of Cleveland at the corner of 55th St. and Woodland Ave. in the parking lot of a Marathon Gas station. An activist we have seen a few times at Tamir events, Arthur Blakey , had a microphone and pull along speaker and led the people with chants for justice. Once they crossed 55th and headed down Woodland Ave. they entered the streets blocking two lanes of traffic until they reached what they called the “projects”. All vehicles behind the demonstration seemed to support their actions and accepted fliers by rolling down their windows when approached. Once we entered the “projects” we were met with high fences made of six foot tall steel bars that lined the street. At this point we are 20 minutes into the march and have seen only two police officers sitting in unmarked cars, later one of them claimed to be with Internal Affairs.

 

Protesters at 55th and Woodland Ave. The second stand off with police during the march.

Protesters at 55th and Woodland Ave. The second stand off with police during the march.

We left the street and proceeded to walk through the center of the neighborhood to another street that led us to a facility with a nearly full parking lot surrounded by a six foot tall chain link fence. As Frid Fridley approached two men standing on the inside of the fence, to give them fliers, they informed the demonstrators Cleveland’s Mayor Jackson was inside making an appearance at a private event. So, in true activist fashion they did what they do best. They entered the building and confronted the mayor with questions and choice words fueled by passion and concern. Of course, the mayor did not answer any of the questions and only responded with a smug posture and a slight grin. A mother to a victim of police brutality approached the mayor to ask him a question but his plain clothed security officer grabbed her by the arm and twisted it behind her back. This aggressive action sparked emotions which made a calm situation intense within seconds. A few people stood up to the officer only to be met with shoving and threats of arrest. This altercation continued through the doors and into the parking lot all the way to where the mayor’s car was parked. Once the mayor left, a civilian vehicle pulled up and began verbally harassing the protesters. In the video you can clearly see this man was on the verge of violence. Once he reentered his car he sped out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell. Mind you there were quite a few children present in the parking lot standing only a few feet from where he decided speed off.

 

After they left the facility where mayor Jackson was, they reentered the streets and shutdown a single lane of traffic still passing out fliers to the community and enjoying the support. At this point the Cleveland police department felt it was a good time for them to get involved. One undercover and three marked cruisers later, they were surrounded with sirens screaming within feet of them. The determined protestors stood their ground despite the intense situation. After a few minutes and words passed they began handing out fliers to the stopped cars while the police continued to harass with their sirens. For the record, not one single officer stepped foot outside of their cruisers or gave commands. They just parked and kept their sirens going. Some were even recording the scene on their cellphones. After the intense situation they carried on and entered a populated strip mall where Rev. Jerome McCorry gave a heart-felt speech to the community and more fliers were passed out. I approached an off duty police officer and asked, “what do you think of all this?” His only response was a stare that entered my eyes and continued through the back of my skull.

 

Protesters took advantage of the Mayor attending a private event to ask him questions and demand justice.

Protesters took advantage of the Mayor attending a private event to ask him questions and demand justice.

So far it’s been a very productive and interesting march shutting streets down, handing out fliers, waving at vehicles honking in support, confronting mayor Jackson, a standoff with police and a public speech. They now move into a four lane road and own it, with cruisers in the rear and parked on side streets watching. I must remind you there were only 20 to 30 people throughout the march. Upon entering the 5 way intersection they started they shut it down for, no less than, 15 minutes. Some cars went around but most sat still and heard the powerful message. After a few minutes police cruisers began to creep in from two sides utilizing the same tactic from earlier, with their vehicles in park and the sirens screaming. They did their best to drown out the message being delivered. No matter the intimidation tactics or audible assault this group was not backing down without being heard. The people of this community know there are people that care about Tamir and everyone else who is victimized. This group of victims’ families and concerned citizens which gathered on a cold November afternoon from across the country, really showed the character of a people who will fight for each other. Not to promote a group, slogan, or ideology. They fight out of love and their fight is for justice and peace in their communities. That sentiment is pure and overrides agendas. Simple acts of humanity. Nothing more and nothing less.