The Best Way To Honor Tamir Rice is by Reforming Our Broken Justice System

Written by on December 30, 2015 in Agencies & Systems, Government with 64 Comments
"Rice had a legal pellet gun that was not pointed at anyone yet he was shot to death two seconds after police arrived," Steven Singer writes. (Photo: Gadfly on the Wall blog)

“Rice had a legal pellet gun that was not pointed at anyone yet he was shot to death two seconds after police arrived,” Steven Singer writes. (Photo: Gadfly on the Wall blog)

By Steven Singer | Common Dreams

Michael Brown – no indictment.

Eric Garner – no indictment.

Sandra Bland – no indictment.

And now Tamir Rice.

How many times will our justice system refuse to charge police with killing unarmed black people?

Related Articles: No Indictment For Ferguson Cop Who Killed Michael Brown

What will it take for our courts to accept the responsibility for at least attempting to seek justice?

When will our judicial system deem the death of people of color at the hands of law enforcement to at least be worthy of a trial?

Brown had no weapon but was shot to death by law enforcement.

Garner had no weapon but was choked to death by police.

Bland had no weapon but was found hanged in her jail cell after being assaulted by police during a traffic stop.

Rice had a legal pellet gun that was not pointed at anyone yet he was shot to death two seconds after police arrived.

This is not justice. This is a national travesty that continues to be played out daily. How many more human beings will be ground under the boot of a system that finds no value in their lives?

And don’t give me any of your excuses! Police were just doing their job! These people should have listened to law enforcement! Rice shouldn’t have had a pellet gun!

Listen to yourself. Lethal force is the only option!? Police have no tasers anymore, no pepper spray? Their guns only fire death strokes? They can’t hit non-vital areas meant to incapacitate but not kill?

What a bunch of cowards we are if we don’t demand police publicly explain themselves when they kill another human being – especially someone who posed them no bodily harm! How morally and spiritually bankrupt a nation we are not to weigh the evidence and decide guilt or innocence! “Freedom and justice for all!?” What a sham! What a lie! What a farce!

Related Article: A Justice System Broken: How Kids From Poor Neighborhoods Are Being Groomed For Prison


I don’t know about you, but I am sick of it. I refuse to put up with it for even one more day.

But what can we do?

No. Really.

When reading about these government sanctioned murders, I feel helpless. I’m just one person. What can I do to stop it?

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Ban Grand Juries in Fatal Shootings by Police

Connecticut and – most recently – California already have laws to this effect. District attorneys should have to decide whether officers face criminal charges when they kill people in the line of duty. This decision should be made in the light of day in full view of the public and not behind the closed doors of a grand jury hearing. These hearings involve no judges or defense attorneys and the transcripts of these proceedings are almost always sealed.

The problem is that district attorneys work closely with police and depend on them for political support. Sending cases like these to a grand jury gets the DA off the hook so he or she doesn’t offend the officers.

If the decision had to be made in public, voters could hold DAs accountable. With the grand jury system, there are no consequences because we have no concrete evidence about what happened during the proceedings, what arguments were made, by whom and who made what decisions. That’s a poor breeding ground for justice.

2) Construct a National Database on Police Killings

Right now there is no way to tell exactly how many people are killed by law enforcement in this country every year. Moreover, there is no way to tell if officers involved in these killings were ever charged.

Information can be compiled state-by-state, often through unofficial and anecdotal sources. However, this does not nearly give the full picture of what is going on. The people of this country deserve to know the full scope of the issue. That’s why apologists often claim these sorts of incidents are relatively rare and blown out of proportion by the media. But are they? A national database would prove the matter one way or the other.

Federal law from 1994 already calls for just such a database, yet it has not been funded. This may be due in part to the cost. A pilot study found that it would take a decade and cost $1 billion.

Certainly this is not a quick fix. But don’t we deserve to know this information? And isn’t it suspicious that nothing is being done to compile this data now?

3) Overturn Graham v. Connor

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to seeking justice for those unnecessarily killed by police is a precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court 25 years ago. Graham v. Connor effectively ruled that police can kill you if they feel you present a “reasonable” threat to their own lives.

The problem is the word “reasonable.” What does that mean? In court, it can be almost anything. It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to police for wanton murder. Justice Sonia Sotomayor calls this a “Shoot first, think later” approach to policing. She says this violates the Fourth Amendment which stipulates what counts as “probable cause” for police actions including arrests. However, Sotomayor is the only sitting justice publicly to take this stance.

This is why without more robust protections for citizens and more realistic expectations for law enforcement, even when cases like these go to court, they rarely result in police convictions.

But courts change. Public opinion can move mountains if given enough time. We need to start putting on the pressure.

Organize, people. Start writing letters. Write petitions. Hold rallies. Meet with your Congress-people. Make some noise.

Related Article: In Midst of Holiday Shopping, Protesters Disrupt Business-As-Usual to Declare ‘Black Lives Matter’

In the meantime, let us grieve for all the Browns, Garners, Blands and Rices.

Their lives matter. And the best way to prove that is to get off our collective asses and do something about it.

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  1.' Ray Clause says:

    Click bait

  2.' Jenny Kendzora Storey says:

    Stopping drugs and gangs is the only way

  3.' Tom Gerencir says:

    Don’t draw police attention, kinda simple don’t make trouble won’t be trouble.

    •' Valerie Anne Corbyn says:

      Until it happens to you or someone you love and then you wake up.. A lady beat up for parking wonky late at night in a supermarket another for not indicating.. Both white..

    •' Raoul Duke says:

      uh stop&frisk demonstrated in hundreds of 1000s of cases minorities were stopped merely for ‘walking while being a minority’ (& some ended up dead just 4 that : ) ya wrong dont kid urself our country has *major* racism issues!!

    •' Amber Buckley-Cobbett says:

      Yes exactly corrupt police and to quick to react is alot of the problem. Too easy to shoot first and ask questions later. Imo. I watch all kinds of cop stopping videos of big feeling jerks. That are power hungry. Think they are big boys with a gun. Bullying people that are just video taping cops. Which they have every right to do. They are supposed to be working for us. Most police prob shouldn’t be police. Just dicks!! Cops shouldn’t be bothering people for no reason. See it all the time.

    •' Tom Gerencir says:

      Seems some people are always in trouble so it’s the police fault.

  4.' Debbie Fleshman says:

    Better parenting

  5.' Noah Smith says:

    How about police just don’t kill anyone who is unarmed or not a threat to their lives. It houldnt matter whether the person wa black white Hispanic Latino or Asian police have no right to kill anyone who doesn’t pose a serious threat to their lives. Lets stop looking at color in this scenario and start lookin at the fact that they killed a human being for no legitimate reason.

  6.' David Michael Zolinas Jr says:

    Its not black or white it’s about them protecting there own black people juat commite more crimes in big cities so they get shot more. Its not a race thing its just people who commit black collar crimes(crimes that get you shot) are moalty Adrian American. No cop is gonna shoot a guy for insurance fraud.

    •' Obie Jessie Jr. says:

      Here is we’re the problem lies .Aboriginal and Indigenous Natural Peoples (Nubian /Moors) of North America (and of the world) have a vested interest in knowing about, learning about, and preserving their Unalienable Rights, Substantive Rights, and Birthrights. Particular emphasis must be put on the fact that European Colonist Demo-operations are constantly violating Constitution principles and International Law. Officers, Politicians and Policemen, etc., are repeatedly breaking the Laws of Nations, in order to effectuate their ‘Color-of-Law’ practices of stealing the Birthrights of the Natural Peoples of the Land – particularly those of the Moorish Americans (who have been ‘branded’ as, negroes, blacks, coloreds, West Indians, Latinos, etc.).

    •' Obie Jessie Jr. says:

      And secondly black is neither a race or a nationality black was placed on a people by an oppressor of hate.PSAit was no accident that they went to the shores of the motherland to grab melanoid people they built civilizations for over 25,000 years. check your US patents see what really makes This monolithic industrial nightmare work daily.all of this what you see today is about people being pushed out of the economical fold of this industrial complex

    •' Obie Jessie Jr. says:

      And oh yeah the people you disrespectfully call Blak only take up 14 % of t society this is a propaganda move

    •' Kathleen Hayes says:

      Thanks for the lesson…it does not matter what they are called doing wrong is doing wrong…I know a lot of good other race people that stay off the street and out of trouble.

  7.' David Michael Zolinas Jr says:

    Hahah adrain American

  8.' Jeffrey Andrews says:

    Justice? It was never for Africans! That where forced to come to amerikkka! As Slaves! :/

    •' Jeremy Hanka says:

      Which Muslims and other Africans trapped and sold

    •' Cory Berg says:

      There were also black native American Indians and we were all slaves to Britain

    •' Pat LeMonde says:

      Would you like a one way ticket back to Africa!! Get over it! Slavery ended a long time ago!!! I get so tired of hearing what people think we owe them!! Nothing that you don’t work for!!

    •' Matthew Sherwood says:

      Thanks for working so hard and doing what you’re told boy!!!

    •' Jeffrey Andrews says:

      If amerikkka would finally pay up Reparations! And all Who had part! In the Slave trade? I Would Love a One way ticket to Africa! So? Who’s Willing to Pay Up First! Any Takers? 🙂

    •' Alicia Johnson says:

      How about reparations for all the Irish slaves brought to America? No? Any of the other “white” slaves?

      Racism is wrong, no matter which way you flip the coin. Can’t we all just be human?

    •' Kathleen Hayes says:

      Jeffery why cant you buy your own one way ticket to Africa? Is that where you were born? Why did you come to America? Just curious.

    •' Jeffrey Andrews says:

      @Kathleen! You can’t be that Clueless? Amerikkka! Had a Big! Part! W/Slave trading! Unfortunately My Ancestors Where Kidnapped! In brought to Amerikkka! For that Wrong doing? Amerikkka! Owes! All African Descendants! From Slave trading!

  9.' Marcus Hart says:

    It’s just a people problem period. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally challenged people. Everyone has a right to their truth unless it is constantly reversing the advancement of the human race. Even animals know when to collaborate with each other for a higher cause.

  10.' Jacqui Bonnel says:

    Always about race….blm such a racist hostile aggressive group who’s message is lost in the delivery…

    Maybe guns are NOT toys…maybe it’s just a sad situation…

    The Leos did their job
    The courts did their job

    As Rodney King said
    Can’t we all just get along?

  11.' Dinah Briggs says:

    It is not broken, it was designed to work the way it is, one sided, wake up and pray, asap

    •' Barbara Cooper says:

      Hahahaha oh that helps

    •' Chris Mullins says:

      Lets pray for world peace, a cure for cancer, and that grandma won’t die while we’re at it. No one must be saying those prayers yet, because there is no peace, we still have cancer, and if granny isn’t dead already, she will be relatively soon. Let’s pray the gay away too……

  12.' Jeremy Hanka says:

    Why is race the only matters alot of killing would stop if people would just shut up listen and pay attention world ant about one race quit acting like it only happens to you if it does your actions play the part

  13.' Daisy Quintero says:

    Who gave him the toy gun?

  14.' Jessica Aragon says:

    Where do you begin?

  15.' Alicia Godreau says:

    So, are you telling me that the police was wrong for shooting Tamir when his “toy” gun clearly resembled a REAL gun? Have you looked up the gun this boy had? What is your suggestion for police, to play Barney with criminals? I would suggest citizens to stop playing stupid games, people to stop resisting police, people to begin RESPECTING AUTHORITY! If people insist in playing criminals they will be treated like one!

  16.' Pat LeMonde says:

    I’d like the media to tell the complete truth about what these victims were doing! Yes, some could have been tazed or wounded, not killed! The black kid that had just robbed a party store, brutalized the owner, and was then killed by police! Then the parents show their high school picture, and say what a good boy he was!! Seriously?!? Let’s riot over a kid that was always in trouble!!!

  17.' Alexis Calant says:

    To all of you who are rationalizing the senseless murders of displaced Africans (whose ancestors your ancestors kidnapped, tortured, raped, and sold to start this country’s economy) can’t really complain when ISIS feels that your actions or your existence should be the reason that they kill you. ISIS feels that you are wrong for being in their country and stealing from them. So let’s talk about what you all are doing to make so many people across the world hate you. It’s not your government because you condone what your government is doing to others so that you can continue to have the things that you have. I like the way you all condone your wrong-doing. Surely you can understand how ISIS condones what they’re doing. You all are so much like ISIS that it’s ridiculous. Law of attraction people. It’s really true!

  18.' Pamela Young says:

    I want to say, iam sorry for ur family,, I don’t know what the cops were thinking at the m!n.. ( I don’t think they were thinking at all…….!!!!!

  19.' Kathryn Miller says:

    I call B.S.!!!! How many times do they get charged for terrorizing whites?!

  20.' Matthew Sherwood says:

    That little dummy was already a gang member in training…those cops did society a favor & saved countless people from being robbed!!!

    •' Raymond Fischer says:

      Thank you!

    •' Mya Sharp says:

      I swear people like you is so fucking sick this was a lil boy someone child how many kids including white kids play with bee bee guns? Hmmmm ill wait. ALOT what if someone killed your 12 year old child or nephew and they said good one less kkk member/serial killer/ in training?!!! One less one terrorizing miniorites or lynching them! Seriously its like you guys is missing a gene or cell for humanity! Thats why its so many of you throughout history fucking savages going around from country to country killing raping genocide like fucking cancer! I would say may God have mercy on your souls but I would be lying. I take great comfort God knows whats in your hearts justice will be served soon.

  21.' Jeffrey Andrews says:

    Wow! Kinda Sick! Some of you amerikkkns With No Regards about an Innocent Child! W/a’Toy Gun”That was gun down! Are your People that afraid of us? That you have to kill Our Children? If amerikkka was Such a free Country for all? Why did amerikkka! Have to take Part in the Slave Trade, Being a “Christian Nation”? :/

  22.' Brad Young says:

    This has nothing to do with consciousness and clearly you have a political agenda. So long conscious life news

  23.' Jeffrey Andrews says:

    How many people on here play’d cops&robber? Why wasn’t the police called on you? :/

  24.' David Copping says:

    Yes. It must be reformed from outside and within. There is something rotten to the core when this happens over and over. It is somewhat similar in Australia when it comes to the police and judicial system with indigenous people

  25.' Steve Freeman says:

    He sure looked armed to me. The problem was with the dispatcher.

  26.' Brownie Ellis Mackie says:

    I wonder how many unarmed white people are killed by police on a daily basis. Or hispanic or others? Might be a good idea to look into that.

  27.' Tommy Mullins says:

    Police should always assume its a harmless toy gun. That seems like the safest thing to do

  28.' Stephen Epps says:

    Just get rid of all the police. Problem solved. Right?

  29.' Lilly Erickson says:

    Unliking this stupid page. Ignorant idiots

  30.' Obie Jessie Jr. says:

    Lol!!! This is not a country it’s a corporation who does business on a landmass called America its not emotion its about money!!!!! your lives mean nothing to this industrial complex.The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias/Police in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.these are the ingredients

  31.' Mientjie Fritz says:

    Let it go Is not going to bring anybody back and believe all happen with good reason

  32.' Mientjie Fritz says:

    My simpathies with family

  33.' Algonquin J Calhoun says:

    If blacks acted normally and not aggressively they would NOT be shot.

  34.' Roger Almeida says:

    The system was never broken, it was built this way.

  35.' Curt Stiles says:

    Nothing broken how about reform poor parenting!

  36.' Starr Guiness says:

    More and more frequently I am disappointed in stories you share. Conscious life used to be a place of hope, of awakening, of life, but recently you have been slipping into the mass programming by spreading the same hype the mass media does.
    “How many times will our justice system refuse to charge police with killing unarmed black people?” Are you serious? Why does it matter that this kid was black??? How about finding a way to make them accountable for killing ANYONE? Please, please stop dividing us by race. My unarmed white friend was shot in the face by a cop, does he not deserve justice as well, simply because he’s white???? WAKE UP CLN!!! Don’t become them

  37.' Kathleen Hayes says:

    Stop putting yourselves in situations to get shot by police! Keep your young black children home and out of trouble teach them respect for not just the law but for everyone. God bless us everyone! Just do the next right thing and good will come back to you!

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