- Doug Brown / Cleveland Scene
A remembrance service and procession for Tamir Rice took to the streets of West Park Saturday afternoon. More than 100 people marched two-by-two, arm in arm, singing songs of protest and pleading for justice. It has been six months since the 12-year-old Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland Police officer.
(Check out photos from #Occupy4Tamir from Sam Allard and Doug Brown here
Though the demonstration was Saturday, only two hours after the announcement of the Michael Brelo verdict — not guilty on all counts — the #Occupy4Tamir event was unrelated, and would have occurred regardless.
It was indeed a kind of funeral for Rice, with readings from scripture, testimonials, songs, a eulogy and even a coffin, around which the crowd gathered in the quiet moments before the noontime proceedings at Impett Park.
Protesters then processed slowly to Prosecutor Timothy McGinty's home near the park, streets blocked off by police officers on motorcycle and horseback.
In #Occupy4Tamir information disseminated online earlier in the week, organizers said that going to McGinty's house was to demand justice. They said they'd return until McGinty's neighbors wanted justice as badly as they did.
But neighborhood fears
that the protest would escalate to violence — the sort of rioting and looting that occurred in Ferguson and Baltimore — proved entirely unfounded. The only minor moment of tension occurred when a neighbor demanded that a photographer get off McGinty's front porch, where he'd ventured (illegally) to snap a few photos.
After 15-20 minutes in front of McGinty's house, the procession wended its way back to Impett. Thereafter, some of the group said that they would reconvene at Cudell Rec Center, where Tamir Rice was shot, later in the afternoon.
A robust media and police presence was on hand throughout the afternoon, so there was never any real danger of violence. All the same, local residents watched from their homes or front lawns in annoyance or confusion, many of them documenting the procession on their mobile devices.
City councilmen Brian Kazy, and Marty Keane were both in attendance, communicating with neighbors. State Rep Nickie Antonio was there as well, marching with protesters.
Bottom line: It was a peaceful and powerful demonstration, with evident calm and consideration on the part of protesters, police and neighbors.