At a rally in Public Square on what would have been Tamir Rice’s 19th birthday, local community leaders reacted to the Chauvin sentencing.
CLEVELAND — Amid umbrellas and a steady light rainfall, more than a dozen people gathered at Cleveland’s Public Square to mark what would have been the 19th birthday of Tamir Rice.
But local community leaders were reacting to the news from the sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in the murder of George Floyd.
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“This was [only] punishment. This was not justice,” said Kareem Henton, founder of Black Lives Matter Cleveland.
The same sentiment was felt by Cleveland’s NAACP, where its president, Danielle Sydnor, said the sentence was not surprising, and called it disappointing.
“22-and-a-half years is at minimum the least that we expected,” she said. “We see in communities in Cleveland and others, where Black and Brown perpetrators actually get sentenced to longer sentences for less violent crimes.”
At the rally in Public Square, Rice’s mother took to a bullhorn to shout, “We want the DOJ to do its job and reopen Tamir’s case!”
It’s been seven years since the 12-year-old was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers, while the boy was playing with an airsoft pellet gun. Unlike in Minneapolis, those here say police accountability remains elusive.
“When you see others inflicted with the same wound, and they begin to have some measure healing, you wish that same level of comfort for yourself. And here in Cleveland, we still haven’t gotten that,” said Henton.
Rice’s mother is rallying to urge the Department of Justice to reopen the federal investigation of her son’s shooting, in a push to charge the officers for violating Rice’s civil rights.
“We will continue to stand in solidarity until justice is served,” Samaria Rice declared.
Among the group, there is no solace from the sentencing of Derek Chauvin. They say it’s only a reminder of the unanswered justice for Tamir Rice.
“The rain that we have today represents the tears of Tamir, the tears of the Rice family, and the tears of us all sharing her pain,” said Henton.