Twelve.

Tamir Rice was twelve.

Twelve.

He was playing with a pellet gun. My kids have played with toy guns: not pellet guns, but water pistols and Nerf guns. They are  brightly colored, but at least a few of them are shaped like guns, and in the twilight could be mistaken as such. At least, if you didn’t bother to stop and look at them, which the cops who murdered Tamir clearly didn’t.

Twelve.

When my sons would go to the park with their water pistols or Nerf guns, it never occurred to me that they might be gunned down where they stood by cops who didn’t bother to actually make sure they were a threat. Who didn’t bother to render first aid as they bled out. Who tackled their sister when she tried to help, or at least hold them as they died.

Twelve.

Ohio is an open carry state: there are grown men who wander around proudly exercising their Second Amendment right to be as scary as possible. Grown white men. Why are they not decrying a boy shot simply for appearing to do the same? Oh, right. He was black. The Second Amendment doesn’t apply to those people.

Twelve.

My sons are adults, now. Unlike me, Tamir Rice’s mother will never get to see him grow up, graduate high school and perhaps college, settle down and have a family.  Instead she will have to live with the horror of his violent and senseless death. None of us is vouchsafed the future of our children, but we should at least be able to sleep at night without worrying that they could be killed by callous cops.

Tamir Rice was twelve. That he will not get any older, and that no one will be brought to justice for his death, is an indictment of a system which holds the lives of young black men as being of little importance. And on us, as a nation, that we watch this evil pattern repeated time after time after time and yet somehow cannot manage to change a damned thing. That we find excuses for the inexcusable.

Tamir Rice was twelve.

May God bring peace to his family, and have mercy on the rest of us.

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