Tamir Rice and Michael Brown never met and lived hundreds of miles from each other, but protesters are drawing together the black youths and believe their deaths at the hands of police is a symptom of a much deeper problem that runs across communities.
Rice, a 12-year-old from Cleveland, was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer on Saturday after a 911 caller said he saw the youth with a gun. The caller told a dispatcher that the gun was likely fake but that was never relayed to police, who shot the boy when he reportedly reached for the BB gun he was holding.
Rice’s death has drawn immediate parallels to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Both were shot and killed in cities where police have been accused of unfairly targeting black residents, and both shootings were defended by the police departments responsible.
Though both young men have become martyrs among some protest groups, the circumstances around the shootings are also equally muddled. Witnesses said that Michael Brown was attacking officer Darren Wilson when he was killed, and police said Tamir Rice was reaching for what they believed was a handgun. Police added that Rice had taken off the bright orange indicator that would have let police know the weapon was only a BB gun.
But online, many continue to make comparisons between Tamir Rice and Michael Brown.
Captured this in Atlanta for the Mike Brown rally. We couldn’t even make it until next year…. Tamir Rice. pic.twitter.com/XclDlfhFdu
— Khalfani Lawson (@whereuniverse) November 24, 2014
— Will Merritt (@wmerritt3) November 25, 2014
— Sandra Khalifa (@snkhalifa) November 25, 2014
It will remain to be seen if the case of Tamir Rice will follow the shooting death of Michael Brown. While a Ferguson grand jury did not return an indictment against Darren Wilson, the Cleveland Police Department and district attorney have not announced whether the officer who shot Rice could face charges.