Never Forget: 5 Years After His Death, Family, Activists Continue to Build Tamir Rice’s Legacy

Demonstrators march on Ontario St. on Dec. 29, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014.
Demonstrators march on Ontario St. on Dec. 29, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014.
Photo: Angelo Merendino (Getty Images)

The tragedy of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the young black boy with the cherubic face, will never leave me. We see a lot of extrajudicial abuse and murder here at The Root, but this one is especially long-abiding, given his age, how Tamir and his sister were treated after he was shot, and, of course, the fact that those responsible received no kind of punishment for killing him.

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And yet. And yet.

There is life after this most tragic death.

Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, will be building on the legacy of her son Tamir by hosting two events on Wednesday in support of the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, a community space offering artistic, educational and civic youth programs for the young people of Cleveland. In 2018, Rice purchased a 3,500 square-foot building and began developing the center after receiving a wrongful death settlement from the city of Cleveland and the two officers involved in Tamir’s death.

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“The arts helped Tamir with self-expression,” said Samaria Rice in a press release sent to The Root. “The development of the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center is an opportunity to build Tamir’s legacy and give hope through the arts to children living in Cleveland’s inner city.”

The evening event, titled, “Art, Activism and the Legacy of Tamir Rice: A Fifth Anniversary Commemoration in Music, Dance, Film and Visual Art” is free and open to the public, and will be held at at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday.

The Mistress of Ceremonies is human rights activist, writer, strategist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi.

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The evening will also feature a conversation between artist and activist Theaster Gates, who used the gazebo where Tamir was shot as a traveling art installation, and journalist and activist Bakari Kitwana; remarks by artists Michael Rakowitz, EJ Hill, Shelia Pree Bright, and Amanda D. King; engaging performances by rapper Jasiri X and dancer Lexy Lattimore; and a screening of the Emmy-nominated documentary short Traveling While Black.

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There will also be a benefit luncheon preceding the event, hosted by Samaria Rice and Theaster Gates.

Rice told The Root that an architectural consultant estimates that it will take about $1.5 million to complete and open the Tamir Rice center, including furniture; Rice says she is hopeful that it will open in 2020.

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For tickets to the evening event, please visit the Cleveland Museum of Art’s webpage. For tickets to the benefit luncheon, visit The Tamir Rice Legacy Luncheon. If you’d like to make a donation to the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, please go here.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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On December 5, 2014, Rice’s family filed a wrongful death suit against Loehmann, Garmback, and the City of Cleveland in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The eight-page complaint accused Loehmann and Garmback of acting “unreasonably, negligently [and] recklessly” and that “[h]ad the defendant officers properly approached Tamir and properly investigated his possession of the replica gun they would undoubtedly have determined ... that the gun was fake and that the subject was a juvenile.” It also accused the City of Cleveland for failing to properly train both officers, as well as failing to learn about the Independence police department’s internal memo about Loehmann.[55][56][57]

On April 25, 2016, the lawsuit was settled in an effort to reduce taxpayer liabilities, with the City of Cleveland agreeing to pay Tamir Rice’s family $6 million ($5.5 million to Tamir Rice’s estate, $250,000 to the child’s mother, and $250,000 to the child’s sister).[1]   Protests? WTF?  The Rice family cashed the checks!  Can’t call it nuthin if ya take the $$.