Organizers behind the #Occupy4Tamir rally Saturday afternoon want to ensure that the demonstration remains peaceful. The Ohio Student Association issued a press release Friday afternoon reiterating the animating principles of the rally and calling once again for non-violence.
"The principles of this action are non-violence, we want to keep the focus on Tamir Rice and the power McGinty has to charge the officers involved in the shooting," the release stated. "We also want to state that this will be a safe space for all participants and spectators."
On the group's Facebook page, the Ohio Student Association announced that there would be a non-violent direct action training session at the Catholic Worker on Lorain Avenue Friday evening at 7 p.m.
"We will discuss the details of the action as well as talking points and messaging for press and members of the community that we will be in," the post read.
Non-violent action training was always part of the plan, organizer Malaya Davis said in a phone conversation with Scene,
but is considered especially helpful now in the wake of a potential counter-protest
that picked up steam during the week.
The Ohio Student Association even changed some of the language in its event description. Earlier claims that protesters would return to West Park until McGinty's neighbors "want justice as badly as we do" has been changed, in the latest document, to the following:
During this march we will be honoring the life of Tamir Rice, recognizing that it’s been 6 months since his tragic death, and that we want Prosecutor McGinty to make the right decision when the investigation is concluded and bring charges officer Loehmann and officer Garmback.
Though many West Park residents fear for the safety of the neighborhood, the hostile rhetoric on the "Protect our City!!!" page caused even greater anxiety in some. A strain of residents who are fed up with the gun-toting fear-mongering of some of the group's members have urged peace and non-violence as well.
Mary Jo Graves, the president of Cleveland's Sea of Blue organization, even communicated to the group that Cleveland Police would prefer if counter protesters didn't intervene.
"They will handle any situation that arises," Graves wrote. "They have enough to deal with, and anyone else showing up is just going to make their job harder. There is no stand down order, and ANYONE who starts any trouble WILL go to jail. They do not care where you are from, who you are, who you know or what you do, instigators will go to jail. period. I really hope that everyone understands their situation. The last thing they need to worry about is crowd control. I hope everyone abides by the wishes of our local law enforcement."
The Sea of Blue group will be holding a prayer vigil Friday evening at Impett park as well, "for peace, for calm, for our neighborhoods, our neighbors, our city, our nation." All are welcome to attend.