Cleveland, OH (TFC) – It was an intimate and emotional setting at the Truth Light Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland on Saturday evening. Reverend Robert Aitkin opened the doors to his E. 55th St. church to a crowd of about 50 who came to support the one year anniversary of the death of Tamir Rice. Those included were “Stolen Lives” families from Cleveland, New York, Detroit, Washington D.C. and Chicago. They were joined by Rev. Jerome McCorry faith coordinator for #RiseUpOctober and Stop Mass Incarceration and many supporters both local and from out of town.
This event is one of those that will impact your life forever. One by one each family stood up front and told their story. Each had a child or other family member killed by police. It’s one thing to read about these cases. It’s another thing, altogether, to have a broken mother standing before you sharing the personal details about their child’s personality, character, goals and eventually a description of their death. Those mothers, sometimes having to stop and collect themselves just to be able to finish a sentence. Throughout their sharing, the room remained silent. You hung on every word. Every tear that fell down a mother’s cheek was matched equally by those who listened. The only time the room interrupted was with shouts of encouragement. Some to help give them the strength to go on and others to applaud them for their strength in those moments.
The families shared their love for their children with all of us. The simplest of things that we teach our kids suddenly meant so much. As they only have the memories of the short period of time they were granted to mother. One spoke of teaching her son to cook. That really hit home for me. As a mom, I also did that for my sons. My oldest is now in Culinary School. Hers will never have the chance to put those skills to use. Another spoke of how the loss of a child in this manner changes you. She said, “there is no word in the dictionary that describes who you are after, who you become. You are just different.” A father told of his son being shot in front of him in his living room. And while his son was on his knees reaching for his father, they shot him again. The dad calling out to the officers “Please, stop…Your killing my son.” He told of how after the ordeal was over that no one returned. Leaving him and his family to clean up the blood of his child’s murder. Bullet holes left in the walls and floors.
Because of whom you become after losing your child, these groups are extremely vital in the lives of these parents. They find connection, comfort, and a unique friendship that can only be offered by someone who has had the same experience. These families are now joined for life. They are able have a constant lifeline of love and encouragement whenever it is needed.
Needless to say the evening was a moving experience for all involved. The reality of these families hit like a ton of bricks. You grieved right along with them. Although the justice they seek will not be found in the pews of True Light Church, they would find love, support, and a bond that will never be broken. These lives are not statistics. They are not numbers to analyze. They are humans with names, faces, and families surrounding them. Each of these lives lost had value. We will never forget the families we were honored to meet and hear that night. They and their children will remain in our thoughts and hearts. Thank you all for allowing us to be present and to be part of such an amazing night.