Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Commentary on Tamir Rice Story: "Tamir Would Be Alive If He Were White"

Lead headline at Huffington Post this morning.

Noteworthy commentary I've read in the last two days about the Tamir Rice case in Cleveland, which I'd like to share with you all here:

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. To grow up black and male in such a place is to live a highly circumscribed life, hemmed in by forces that deny your humanity and conspire to kill you.

Wendell Griffen at Justice is a verb!:

White people and neighbors are protected (privileged) by whiteness from police homicide, not routinely victimized by homicidal police actors.  Protection from police homicide is one reality of white privilege even when white people are armed and engage in threatening behavior. 
Cliven Bundy, a white Nevada rancher, mounted and led an angry and armed assault on federal law enforcement officers who seized cattle Bundy illegally allowed to graze on federal land.  Cliven Bundy has never been arrested or otherwise prosecuted for threatening the law enforcement officers.  Bundy, a white man who threatened law enforcement officers and incited others to do so, is alive.  Tamir Rice, a black youngster who played with a pellet gun. is dead. 

Daniel Marans at Huffington Post:  

The prosecutor [Daniel McGinty] had already attempted to convince the grand jury not to indict the men, commissioning expert reports that called their guilt into question and then leaking those reports to the media. As The Huffington Post’s Cristian Farias wrote, McGinty "turned the grand jury in the Tamir Rice case into his plaything."
But on Monday, he didn't merely suggest that the police officers' use of force against Rice was justified. He selectively used information to excuse and defend their actions, and implicitly blamed the unarmed African-American boy who was killed -- something that is all too common in police killings.

Patricia Miller at The Nation cites Kimberly Crawford, a former FBI special agent and hired expert witness in the hearing about Tamir Rice's shooting, who also plays the blame-the-child-victim game:

Most law enforcement officers would rather take a bullet than shoot a toddler. However, Tamir Rice was…perfectly capable of inflicting death or serious physical injury.

Charles Pierce at Esquire:

Is there any real point in being angry any more? Is there any real point even to be surprised? There certainly is no point in emphasizing the damn irony that Ohio is an "open carry" state so, even if the cops assumed Rice was 18, and they also assumed his gun was real, they had no cause even to stop him, let alone open fire. Listen to the spiel that Wayne LaPierre unspools every time he's in a room with more than four people listening: arm yourselves, because the world is a hellscape of violent Others who are coming for you and your children. At its heart, open carry is about open season on the people who scare you. It's certainly not about an absolute Second Amendment right that applies to black people as well as white. Open carry is about You and the Others, and so is the training of our modern, militarized police forces. If only Tamir Rice had not been born with that congenital ability to become huge and threatening the way he did in the mind of Timothy Loehmann. If only…

Cristian Farias at Huffington Post: 

No one was indicted in the Tamir Rice case. That was the plan all along.

Sarah Lazare at Common Dreams:

The Black Lives Matter movement that swept the country in 2015 has—among other accomplishments—forced global media outlets to afford victims of police killings the most basic acknowledgement: a public record of their names and deaths. 
Such a grim tally was maintained this year by both the Guardian and the Washington Post, following the consistent failure of the U.S. government to keep adequate records. 
According to the Guardian, 1,126 people were killed by police so far in 2015, averaging more than three a day, with 27 percent of those slain facing mental health issues. 
The numbers confirm the racial injustices highlighted by nationwide protests. Among black people in America, 6.9 per million were killed by police, compared to 2.86 white people per million. In other words, African-Americans were nearly 2.5 times as likely to be killed by police as their white counterparts.

And at Think Progress, Judd Legum provides an invaluable summary of the facts in this case, as the white-is-always-right gun-toting male crowd starts circulating its usual litany of lies in the wake of the court annnouncement that the officers who shot Tamir Rice will not be held accountable in any way.

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