The United Church of Christ's next Executive of Justice and Witness Ministries is calling for a thorough investigation into the killing of a 12-year old child by police after a grand jury in Cleveland has declined to indict a city police officer in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice.
Tamir was holding a pellet gun outside a recreation center last year, prompting a call to 911. While that caller told the dispatcher that the boy was probably a juvenile and that the weapon was most likely fake, that information was not relayed to the two officers who responded. Video shows the child was shot by one of the officers as he exited the patrol car.
Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, who announced the grand jury decision said that while "this was a perfect storm of human error," the evidence considered "did not constitute criminal action by police."
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries, released this statement after the decision was announced:
"Today, yet another Black child's life was rendered disposable, not by a grand jury of his peers, because he was only 12 years old. His peers are not even old enough to serve on a jury. Murdered by law enforcement. His only crime was being a 12 year old Black male child in a poor neighborhood. Those two factors alone robbed him of his youth, robbed him of protection, robbed him of any benefit of the doubt.
And then Prosecutor McGinty robbed him and his family of all due process under the law. If we are a nation of laws, then those laws should apply equally to all citizens. If we are a nation of compassion, then that compassion should not be determined by the color of one's skin. If we are a nation of justice, then that justice must be available to everyone.
Even when filmed, the killing of a black child is rendered justifiable. Even in an open carry state, the killing of a black child carrying a pellet gun is rendered justifiable. Even in a playground with no sign of threat, the killing of a black child is rendered justifiable. Within two seconds of their arrival, it is acceptable that a 12 year old is dead.
We demand a thorough investigation into the killing of Tamir Rice by the United States Department of Justice. We demand equal protection of black children, both under the law and, when necessary, from those hired to enforce the law."