“He was a beautiful child playing our fucked-up national game. Now, he’ll never be anything else, and we’re supposed to think that’s right.”
You may not have thought much about it, because a child with a realistic-looking gun being shot by police in America may not have tripped your alarm circuits. You saw the uniform on his killer, and didn’t think thug or criminal. You didn’t think of all the times you played with toy guns as a child, and when you did, you weren’t worried that a cop would roll up and shoot you for it. Your games of cops and robbers were never interrupted by cops arriving, stepping out of their car, and shooting your friends dead. So you figure there must have been some reason for it. After all, the killer wore blue.
You’re probably white, and thus don’t have to worry about the color of your skin priming someone to kill you dead before even getting a proper look at you.
If you still think the officer who shot Tamir was being reasonable, download a timer onto your phone. Have someone set it for two seconds. Have them start that timer as you pull your car into your driveway and get out. Have another friend standing in your yard, looking at you, holding something.
Would you have had enough time to assess whether they posed a threat? Would two seconds really be enough time to decide whether someone should live or die?
You may protest that a cop’s life could be taken in two seconds. It could. So could mine, and so could yours, but the difference is, cops are professionals. They should be able to approach a possibly dangerous scene and assess it. They should know how to minimize the danger to themselves while still not shooting a child who isn’t shooting at anyone, much less them. They should be trained and expected to hold their fire until it’s utterly necessary.
I’m reasonably sure that if that child had been white, he would have either been alive, or his killer on trial. But Officer Timothy Loehmann will probably go free. The grand jury declined to indict him. The prosecutor thinks it’s perfectly fine to shoot a child within two seconds of seeing him, as long as that child is dark-skinned and looks big and scary to the poor cowardly police.
Officer Timothy Loehmann is a murderer. But he will walk free, because we don’t mind our murderers as long as they wear a uniform and don’t target privileged people.
There will be protests. There will very likely be police violence against those protests. And the cycle of police violence against black bodies will continue.
It’s up to us to stop it.
There is something you can do right now to begin. You can talk about it. You can talk about how fucked up it is that a child is murdered and his family will see no justice. You can talk about how our police departments need to be demilitarized, how institutional racism must be rooted out, how they need to be trained to deescalate rather than shoot first and not even bother to ask questions.
You can tell your local, state, and national officials that you won’t accept this as status quo.
You can support the protesters. You can march, and you can signal boost, and you can defend them against people who think their own inconvenience matters more than justice for yet another dead child.
You can speak out.
But one of the most critical things you can do is take this challenge:
White People and non-black POC Challenge:
one thing you can do– talk to ALL the non-black people in your sphere of influence about why they should not call the police on black people for silly ass shit. remember that when you call the police to come scope out a black person- for having a loud party, or looking “suspicious,” or acting “erratically,” or loitering, or WHATEVER trifling reason- that black person might very well end up dead. DEAD DEAD DEAD.
the person who called the police on Tamir Rice was on the phone all like “hmmm i think it’s a toy gun, but i’m scared (because he’s a black child and i find them scary) so y’all should still come check him out.” don’t do shit like that and tell your friends and family not to do it either.
who gon take the challenge?
And you can confront the racism within yourself that tells you that a black person doing things is terrifying, whereas a white person doing the same things is merely annoying.
You can do these things, and it’s not enough, but it is a step towards making it possible for black children to play our national games without getting slaughtered for it.
We must take that step.