Tamir Rice protest (180601)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

Reports indicate the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP is requesting transcripts of witness testimony before the grand jury that did not indict the police officers for the 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Members voted this week to take action to get the documents and plan to analyze the material. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty does not have the authority to release the documents, so the decision is left to the courts.

Cleveland NAACP President Michael Nelson said they are not asking for the names of people who were on the grand jury but that the testimony from witnesses is key in knowing why the officers were not indicted.

“We understand that it would not include the names of the jurors,” Nelson said. “We know that’s not proper, and that’s not something we are asking for—disclosure. But we are asking for the general transcript of the witness testimony—the cost—how much was spent on the actual expert witnesses. He had several witnesses until he got what he wanted … so we want to know how much that cost.”

In December, NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said that even though the grand jury made its decision, there are still several unanswered questions. He questions why dispatchers failed to pass along to the officers that Rice was minor and had a toy gun.

“The tragedy of Tamir Rice must be seen with unblinking clarity through the lens of a series of incidents of police misconduct committed by members of the Cleveland Police Department over years,” he said. Cleveland has a long record of police misconduct subject to multiple and serial federal investigations. And it is against this ugly backdrop that its citizens are being asked to “just trust us.’”

The National Black Church Initiative is calling for a nationwide boycott of Cleveland because of the grand jury’s decision. The Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the organization, said the state of Ohio must pay for the killing of Black children.

“We are asking all African-American organizations to cancel all plans to hold any type of meeting or conference in the state of Ohio” said Evans. “Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old Black child. What type of society excuses the actions of white racist cops who kill at will its Black children with disregard? If we cannot protect our own children, then what good is the Black race? Without action, we will sow the seed to our own destruction. We must honor and protect our children by sending the only lesson the system will respond to—not spending our Black dollars in a state that kills our children. Boycott!”