Of all the instances of police brutality we have witnessed in the past few years, Tamir Rice’s case might be the most tragic—the 12-year-old was playing with a toy gun in a park when Cleveland police pulled up to the scene and fatally shot him.
Rice’s situation was outrageous for a multitude of reasons: his age, the complete lack of empathy shown by the police, and the fact that he was killed for behaving like most children and simply playing with a toy.
Detractors were quick to claim that the same situation would have occurred if it were a white child instead of a black one; however, a recent case that also occurred in Cleveland proves definitively otherwise.
The circumstances are incredibly similar to Rice’s: According to Mic, two brothers (12 and 15) were playing with BB guns in a Cleveland suburban park when police were called to investigate after a dispatcher informed them that they weren’t sure “if the gun was real.”
This same situation led to Rice’s death, but in this case, the police didn’t immediately shoot on arrival. Instead, they peacefully questioned the boys, confiscated their guns, and arrested them.
While police clearly treated young white offenders differently, the Cleveland judge that handled the case thought it was important to teach the young boys exactly why this was.
Rather than give the kids community service, judge Je'Nine Nickerson ordered them to “write [him] a report on how their cases are different and how they are similar to the Tamir case,” according to Cleveland.com.
This is an excellent method of explaining to a younger generation why issues of race and police brutality are so important—self-reflection will undoubtedly give the young boys some much-needed perspective on the inherent role race plays in their lives.
While the comparison of this case to Rice’s is heartbreaking in the stark difference of outcomes, at least the judge made sure the boys gained some valuable knowledge and insight out of their experience.
Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @femjaadu