How Many MORE Times?!?!

Tamir Rice


It’s Tuesday …

How many more times do we have to see a child … or anyone … shot and killed … by anyone, especially a police officer?  Chicago is back in the news again with another officer shooting and killing two unarmed African Americans, including the 55 year old woman who opened the door for them.  And … the officer that shot Tamir Rice in a local park in Cleveland, OH was NOT charged by a grand jury.  The officers said that they thought he was going into the nearby recreation center … with his pellet gun!!!  So, since the police thought the pellet gun was a real gun, and someone at the recreation center next door to the park where Tamir was playing had called them saying they feared he would come to the center … yes, he was playing ALONE … rather than to take a chance and further investigate the complainant’s claim,  Tamir was shot and killed within seconds of the arrival of the two officers.
I remember when I used to come to Tampa, FL with my parents and family as a child for Christmas.  We would drive as a family from New York in the family two tone 1957 pink Cadillac that my father had bought used and fixed it up!  Sometimes, I would get a treat and they would put me on the train with one of my sisters.  We used to go to my mother’s sister’s house in Tampa who was married to my Uncle John Billups, whom I was named after, as well as my father … thusly … John Isaac.  They would often get me toys that I liked.  My favorite was to dress up as a cowboy with the hat and vest that my Aunt Drew and Uncle John had bought me for Christmas; once I think they bought me some cowboy boots and these fixtures over my pants that resembled the authentic cowboy’s gear.  They even included a gun belt with two holsters and two shiny cap pistols to go in each holster.  I used to love playing with my toy guns, putting rolls of caps in them and shooting them like a real cowboy!  I was playing, too … probably like 12 year old Tamir was playing in the park that day he was killed … alone …
In Chicago, the woman was  55 years of age and the 19 year old young man was a mentally disturbed person who had gotten combative with his father that day while wielding an aluminum bat.  Just recently, a relative had told the young African American mentally disturbed young  man that he would have to learn to control his temper … Then  this!  He probably couldn’t get the counseling … or medication he needed, so he literally committed suicide by the officer’s bullets while the woman who opened the door was shot and killed … by accident, the officers said!  Why is it when an African American person is approached by the police … and the “black” person is not armed with equal force … maybe a bat or a knife … and the police have tasers that they could use to de-escalate the situation … gun play suddenly erupts in the officers’ efforts to “protect and serve” … or are they doing something else, though that is their “job description”?  This is not my first piece with the “how many times” theme!  How many times have I mentioned this?  Do you think I could’ve been killed in Tampa, too … if not with my family playing at my Aunt Drucilla and Uncle John’s house on North A Street … by the police?!?  RIP, Tamir.
This is why I share my stories and look forward to speaking with the youth …. in particular the young black men!  Be careful, y’all … ALL y’all … but especially young African American men.

John I. Cook, Director

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