The lack of a prosecution for the murder of Tamir Rice barely comes as a surprise, but is still an outrage. It is made even worse coming so soon after another non-indictment in the murder of Sandra Bland. Cuyahoga County District Attorney Timothy McGinty has for months been doing his absolute best to avoid an indictment and has consistently leaked inflammatory information to the media aimed at justifying the murder of Tamir.
That Officer Timothy Loehmann will face no charges at all–and neither will his partner—is a slap in the face. Even the quickest glance at the Ohio criminal code will show that any non-cop who shot someone like Tamir was shot would at least be on the hook for involuntary manslaughter. To deny that the man had murdered Tamir, and not even put the cop on trial for a lesser charge can only tell us one thing: justice isn’t blind.
McGinty sits amid a thoroughly biased criminal “justice” system in Cleveland. The story is roughly the same as most of the other police murders that have sparked news this year: a mostly poor, Black population brutally policed by cops with racist attitudes and legal impunity.
In the midst of this process the Justice Department concluded an investigation into the Cleveland police department finding: “CDP engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the…United States Constitution. We have determined…structural…deficiencies and practices…contribute to the use of unreasonable force.”
The report goes on to further detail the practices they found objectionable:
- The unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes with impact weapons
- The unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including tasers, chemical spray and fists
- Excessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis, including in cases where the officers were called exclusively for a welfare check
- The employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place officers in situations where avoidable force becomes inevitable and places officers and civilians at unnecessary risk.
It also noted that “officers also use less lethal force that is significantly out of proportion to the resistance encountered and officers too often escalate incidents with citizens.” Justice Department Investigators found “incidents of CDP officers firing their guns at people who do not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or others and using guns in a careless and dangerous manner.”
Not unsurprisingly the report also relates that: “many African-Americans reported that they believe CDP officers are verbally and physically aggressive toward them because of their race.”
McGinty orchestrated a non-indictment because he feared the consequences of looking into the abyss that is the Cleveland Police Department. Any trial was likely to draw out the sordid reality of the cops and the courts of Cleveland, and unlike the sterile Justice Department report, end up naming names, maybe even putting McGinty himself in the crosshairs for creating the climate of impunity for police abuse and murder.
In the United States the police use violence nine times as often as they face it and kill seven times more often than they are killed. Report after report has documented that behind these sorts of statistics hide ugly inequalities. Cities have spent massive sums of money to try to cover up their crimes through civil suits.
Chicago has spent half a billion dollars on law suits dealing with police terror in the past decade. Minneapolis has paid out $21 million since 2003 and Denver has paid $13 million going back a decade. Baltimore’s tally of $5.7 million since 2011 could’ve renovated 43 playgrounds, a local newspaper found.
Now more than ever it should be clear the police in America are an instrument of “order,” not justice in any sense. Their occupation-style, militarized tactics are the clearest reflection that they are an instrument of social control—a military solution to social problems. They function to hold the lid on the pressure cooker capitalism has created in the inner-cities of America. Racked with poverty and despair, deprived of resources and strangled of hope.
The non-indictment of Tamir Rice shows us that justice most certainly isn’t blind, and certainly doesn’t exist in the legal system of this country. The movement that has erupted around #BlackLivesMatter has brought that fact clearly to the surface. Our response to this latest injustice must be to escalate the struggle we’ve already begun. As the Party for Socialism and Liberation said in the wake of the Baltimore Uprising: It is right to rebel!