Protests For Tamir Rice Erupt In Cleveland & New York After Grand Jury Opts To Not Indict Officers
It took more than a year for prosecutors to announce what Cleveland residents and activists around the country had feared: that the officers involved in the shooting of Tamir Rice will not be charged with a crime. Following Monday's announcement, it didn't take long for their voices to be heard, condemning the decision and asking for justice. Though the protests were small, Cleveland demonstrators, and some in New York, bared freezing temperatures to make a stand.
Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was carrying a toy gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland when someone called 911 to report him waving the gun and pointing it at others. Officers rushed to the scene and pulled up alongside Rice. Surveillance cameras show one of the officers get out of the cruiser and almost immediately shoot the boy. He was hit once in the torso and died the next day following surgery.
On Monday, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, announced that a grand jury, following his office's recommendation, had decided not to indict the officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. McGinty claimed that the situation, however tragic, was not an example of police acting outside constitutional boundaries. Loehmann, who shot Rice, had a "reasonable belief" to fear for his life, McGinty said.
That decision did not sit well with protesters, who took to Cleveland streets.
In New York, demonstrators marched as well. There were no reports of arrests, according to CBS News.
This was not the first time the shooting of Rice has been protested. Cleveland stayed largely calm following the incident, but the shooting occurred just days before a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson in connection with the death of Michael Brown. Rice's case became a rallying cry at protests nationwide, including in Ferguson. Protesters from Missouri traveled to Cleveland to protest against police as well.
Earlier Monday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said at a news conference that police officials would conduct an administrative review of the shooting. Both of the officers involved are still on restricted duty and could face disciplinary action if the review committee finds they violated department procedures. He said it was a difficult time for the city:
This has caused the city of Cleveland, with the loss of a child at the hands of a police officer, to do a lot of soul searching. And in the midst of that soul searching we have made some changes. All this is designed to better ensure that an incident like this will never happen again.
In addition to the administrative review, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office said a federal investigation by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division into the shooting will continue despite the grand jury decision.
The grand jury may not have delivered justice in the eyes of protesters, and that's why they want to keep the focus on Rice's case. By doing so, maybe justice will be delivered through one of these alternative avenues.