Remembering Tamir Rice: 5 Things podcast

Remembering Tamir Rice: 5 Things podcast

June 27, 2021

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: We’re bringing back an episode from June 2020, in which three teenagers told us about what growing up Black in Tamir Rice’s America means to them.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Clare Thornton

Hey there, I’m Claire Thornton. And this is Five Things. It’s Sunday, June 27th. These Sunday episodes are special. We’re bringing you more from in-depth stories you may have already heard. This past Friday, Tamir Rice would’ve turned 19 years old. He was only 12 years old when he was shot and killed by officer Timothy Loehmann in a park in Cleveland. November 22nd, 2021 later this year, will be the seven year anniversary of his death. Last year, we aired an episode of Five Things called teenagers reflect on growing up black in Tamir Rice’s America. And that episode we brought together interviews from young black people turning 18. They all told us how they experienced some aspect of what it means to be black in the United States. That can mean having family members who’ve been shot by police, being randomly searched by officers at school, or fearing for your life when a cop pulls you over.

Clare Thornton

We also spoke with Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice. She’s been advocating for young black people in Cleveland, because what happened to her son keeps on happening. On this show we’re bringing back that episode from last June so that we can be reminded of what Tamir Rice’s legacy means for our country almost seven years after his death. Here’s that episode. And just a reminder, it’s from one year ago. This past Thursday, June 25th would’ve been Tamir Rice’s 18th birthday. He was shot and killed by police in a park in Cleveland in 2014, when he was just 12 years old. He’d been playing with a toy gun. Tamir’s death was one of the sparks that fueled the Black Lives Matter movement in its early years. On November 22nd, 2014, a 911 caller reported someone pointing a gun at people and scaring them. The caller indicated the suspect was possibly a juvenile and that the gun was likely fake.

Clare Thornton

The 911 dispatcher never relayed that information to police. When the police car pulled up, the officers immediately jumped out and two seconds later, Tamir was shot. The officers watched Tamir as he lay bleeding. They never provided first aid. A year later, a grand jury declined to charge officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir. On today’s episode, we’re remembering Tamir and exploring what his story and his family’s story means for so many others. USA Today journalists talked to 31 teenagers about growing up black in Tamir Rice’s America. They’re all turning 18 this year. Some want to changed their communities by removing blight and closing the wealth gap between whites and minorities. Others are bound for the military, historically black colleges or the Ivy League. Some have been marginalized by their classmates or discriminated against by adults who were supposed to protect them. Others grew up surrounded by the hardness of poverty.

Clare Thorton

The full project came out this past Tuesday. You’re about to hear three of those interviews with teenagers. Later, you’ll also hear from Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice. She’s fighting to advance all kinds of legal and policy changes because what happened to her son keeps on happening again and again. First we’ll hear from black teenagers turning 18 this year. Bryce Tarver graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Marlborough, Maryland this spring. It was the first high school for African-Americans in this country. Bryce’s parents got him a 2019 Toyota Camry as a graduation gift. Bryce said he wanted tinted windows. His parents said no, because tinted windows would make him more of a target for police. Here’s Bryce.

Bryce Tarver

Getting pulled over by the cops is like fear. It’s fear. I just want to be as of right now, at peace. So I’m like blessed to be Black and I’m also a little nervous.

Clare Thorton

Teenage activists, Amir Casimir says he wasn’t shocked when Tamir Rice was shot and killed in 2014. In middle school, Amir read books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X instead of Huckleberry Finn. In high school, Amir worked with local social justice organizations to protest the use of pepper spray in schools. He also fought to dismantle the school to prison pipeline, which experts define as a national trend of children from poor or abusive backgrounds being funneled out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. That could look like a student being punished for something they did at school by being sent to a juvenile detention center. Amir was recently subjected to a random search by administrators at his high school. He says he handed over his backpack and watched them search for something that wasn’t there. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Here’s Amir.

Amir Casimir

It hurts. It always feels like, wow, it’s still going on, wow, it’s like over and over again. But for me, that’s fuel to my fire.

Clare Thorton

That spring under pressure from advocacy groups, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to end random searches.

Amir Casimir

We can advocate for real change at the state level with the laws. The power of the people that rise out of that is beautiful.

Amir Casimir

RuQuan Brown says learning about Tamir Rice’s death taught him what it means to be Black in America. Since then, gun violence has been a central cause in RuQuan personal activism in 2019 RuQuan launched Love One. It’s a clothing company that sells t-shirts and hoodies as part of his anti-violence campaign. Proceeds go to a program that buys back guns and turns them into art. Next year, RuQuan will be attending college at Harvard. Three years ago, RuQuan’s teammate on the football team was shot and killed. A year later, RuQuan’s stepfather was also killed by someone with a gun. RuQuan’s grandfather and cousin have also been shot. They survived. Here’s RuQuan.

RuQuan Brown

Being a young Black man, it’s a traumatic experience, man. My stepdad was murdered. I had a teammate who was killed. So I experienced the plights of Black people on top of just going outside and being scared. And I have to wear my Harvard hat because I feel like it’s a shield. It’s tough where you feel like you have to change who you are in order to fit the mold of the world in order to be safe.

Clare Thornton

Samaria Rice, Tamir Rice’s mother has been ready to go to work. Ahead of Tamir’s 18th birthday this past week, she shared her hopes for Black teens who are becoming adults this year. She also reflected on the life her son should have had.

Samaria Rice

I mean, Tamir was very athletic, so he could have got a scholarship to play soccer, basketball, football, anything. He was a very talented little boy, just really being an all American kid where I just exposed him to the greater things in life far as mentoring, camp, sending him to camp and things like that. Just making sure he was exposed to things that I wasn’t exposed to, but also by him being a boy, boys go from one activity to the next. They don’t know. He want to play video games today. He want to be a video game master or I want to go out and play basketball. So he could’ve been anything he wanted to for the most part. We don’t know what he would have been, honestly.

Clare Thornton

Tamir wasn’t even 12 and a half when he was shot and killed by police.

Samaria Rice

He was only 12 for five months and just transitioning, he’s still watching cartoons and some of his favorite food was cheese pizza and chicken nuggets. So he was still transitioning, playing with Legos. I really don’t know what he could have become because America robbed me of that.

Clare Thornton

Samaria now has three kids who’ve graduated high school. Turning 18 was a big moment for each of them. One that came with more freedom and opportunity.

Samaria Rice

And also just being able to vote for the first time. So that right there, being able to let your voice be heard and let it count at 18. You just never know the opportunities out there. I have three high school graduates and where I come from, kids ain’t graduating. So I made a lot of sacrifices and I invested into their life, into their schooling and just into them period, for they can be productive citizens and things like that and get the opportunities that I did not get when I was growing up. I wanted to create a formula to make sure that my kids graduated and they had those opportunities to go to college or wherever they wanted to go.

Clare Thornton

Samaria wants police departments and local governments to pay for killing people. Timothy Loehmann, the officer who killed Tamir, was hired by another police station in Ohio, in 2018.

Samaria Rice

Me and my attorney was talking about implementing insurance policies on the police and they need them. Absolutely. They need them. However, they come up with them, I need to be a part of that. I say five million a bullet. Because each time you empty your bullet and you don’t judge the situation, you have a problem. Since you have a problem, you will learn how to fix your problem. So they need insurance policies. That way they can have a clear mind with your thinking, before you pull the trigger. Use your good judgment that you supposed to have. And if you don’t have good judgment, maybe you shouldn’t be a police officer. We know that police lie. We know this. We know that they lie. They been lying for the last 500 years. We get it. You live an American dream all right, but if you Black and brown, that don’t count for you.

Samaria Rice

I’m trying to honor my son’s 18th birthday and can’t even do that because they keep killing us. They keep killing us. So it’s just a shame. And I’m sure that everybody feels that pain. Everybody feels the pain now. It actually kind of took breath out my body to have to watch that just the same as it took breath out my body for Tamir. Put me in a very dark place when I hear these killings that just keep happening, and happening, and happening, and happening on behalf of law enforcement. And it’s just a shame.

Clare Thornton

For Samaria, now is the time to demand action. She says, Americans need to enact legal and policy changes that are long overdue.

Samaria Rice

It is definitely time that we come together. And I’m just going to say together, because I am an American. Come together for the most part to demand that these laws be changed, that the police bill of rights be done away with. The Garrity law, the Blue Alert, defunding the police, taking their money away, destroying the arbitration process. You know what I’m saying? The bargaining agreement and things of that nature, implementing insurance policies on these police. I mean, I don’t understand what the powers that be is doing right now, but they need to figure it out and they need to figure it out quick. And we need to get our demands together. We need to get up to the governor’s office and we need to demand that on black and white, on paper, that’s called a bill. So we need to introduce the bill that we demand to get changed. And that’s what needs to happen for the country right now.

Clare Thornton

To hear more from Samaria like how she’s planning to create a community center in Cleveland, look for links in the episode notes. There in your podcast app or online. There, you’ll also find the link to the story featuring all 31 black teenagers we talked to around the country. They’re all turning 18 this year and want to make the most out of the opportunities that come with adulthood. Thanks for listening. If you liked this episode of Five Things, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and tell us what your favorite part was. Writing reviews is a great way to help other podcast listeners learn about the show. Taylor Wilson will be back tomorrow morning with Five Things you need to know for Monday. I’m Claire Thornton. I’ll see you next Sunday.

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