Faith leaders from across the country of all denominations are criticizing the recent decision by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury to absolve the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in November of 2014.
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., (SDPC) an organization comprised of pastors of various denominations from all over the country, issued a statement this week sharply critical of the action taken by the Grand Jury and presented by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of SDPC, said that the lack of accountability required of Officer Timothy Loehmann and the system represents yet another instance of abject racism on the part of law enforcement and the criminal justice system as it pertains to its treatment of black people. “The prosecutorial process has become an instrument of the state, violating not only the civil rights but the human rights of young Rice.”
SDPC churches are united in their anger and disappointment in the Rice case. We are as concerned for the spirit of the Rice family, which must not only deal with the death of the 12- year-old, but also with the moral injury being inflicted by the justice system.
“Ohio is an open carry state,” said Carruthers. “There is something very wrong here. And it is inconceivable that the offending officers could not have yelled out a warning to Tamir in the 3 seconds it took to drive up on him, get out of their vehicle, and shoot him at point-blank range.”
The lack of respect for the humanity of Tamir and his sister is unconscionable. The officers let Tamir lie wounded and unattended for some time, and handcuffed his young sister and put her in the police car when she realized what had happened to her brother.
Carruthers and SDPC are joining other faith leaders from across the country in their protest and demands that serious and substantial changes be made to the justice system in this nation. “It is past time for state-sanctioned violence to be outdone,” she said, “and it is past time for faith leaders, no matter their color and/or nationality, to remain silent in the face of such violation of human dignity.”
SDPC will continue to work with other faith leaders to petition Attorney General Lynch to investigate the Rice case. Over 50,000 signatures have been collected on one such petition. “It is time for the Church to speak up and be heard.” she said. “This madness has to stop.”