Jan 4, 2021
Today, six years after Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, Ohio, the federal Justice Department announced it would not pursue charges against the cops involved.
Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old black child playing with a toy gun, when a witness called 911 to report that someone was brandishing a weapon in a park. The caller told the dispatcher that the person involved was “probably a juvenile” and the gun was “probably fake.” Yet the cops drove right up to where Rice stood, and within two seconds of their arrival, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the boy.
Loehmann was fired by the police department. Not for the shooting, however, but for falsifying his job application. His partner received a slap on the wrist, a 10-day suspension, for driving right up to the boy. A grand jury refused to indict anyone involved in the murder of Tamir Rice.
When racist murders at the hands of the cops provoke protests, politicians often hold out hope for those outraged by promising to send the case to the Justice Department for possible prosecution of civil rights violations. While Trump’s DOJ has been more open in its support for racist cops, the DOJ’s refusal to act in this case is just another in a long line of similar misdeeds. It similarly refused to act in the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott, among others.
In fact, an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that between 1995 and 2015, the Justice Department refused to bring charges in 96% of cases alleging civil rights violations against cops. By comparison, DOJ prosecutors only rejected 23% of referrals in other criminal cases.
All workers need to oppose racist murders by the police. But when we do, history shows the politicians’ promises that the Justice Department will investigate for civil rights violations are just a method of stalling to cool down people’s anger. We shouldn’t fall for their fake promises.