It's becoming more and more obvious that there's currently a disastrous pattern of police-on-civilian violence occurring across the country. The tragic fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice back in November 2014 evokes immediate reminders of the similar tragedies that involved Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and others. Yet each of these cases has their own idiosyncrasies, their own unique details that separate them ever so slightly from the other tragedies we've had to process as a society lately. In the case of Rice's death, that detail is his age.
Rice was shot by police on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014, in Cleveland. He was playing outside of a local recreation center, in a park, when someone in the area called police after seeing Rice pointing what looked like a gun in the direction of other people playing nearby. The caller noted that the gun was "probably fake" and that the suspect was probably a "juvenile," but the dispatcher failed to communicate those hunches to the police.
When the police arrived, they shot Rice, and he later died in the hospital. The gun that Rice had brandished was, in fact, fake, and Rice himself was, in fact, a juvenile — he wasn't even yet a teenager. On Monday, local officials announced that the officers involved in Rice's shooting would not face charges. In light of that grand jury decision, an exceptionally memorable tweet surfaced on Monday afternoon:
Rice's age makes the shooting particularly controversial. After all, as the tweet above points out, Rice certainly isn't the only young boy to have feigned the use of a weapon in a game. Sure, you could argue that such games are never appropriate and that Rice shouldn't have had a fake gun in the first place, but you probably wouldn't or shouldn't make the argument that Rice deserved to die for his game.
On Monday, most of the debate surrounding the Rice case has focused on the fact that the two officers involved in the 2014 shooting will not face charges. Putting that aside for a moment, it's important to remember that a young boy died that November afternoon. Regardless of the charges or lack thereof, Rice's story should be a wake-up call, in a way that even none of the other cases in this same vein have been before, because it shows that this pattern of police-on-civilian tragedy has spilled over into the lives of our country's children.