Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tamir Rice Update: 60,000-signature petition for County Prosecutor Tim McGinty for criminal charges and arrests warrants against Cleveland police that killed Tamir Rice to be delivered at 2 pm at Justice Center on July 23 with 1 pm City Hall rally....The petition is signed by Congresswoman Fudge, state legislators, city and county council members, union leaders, residents, community activists, and others ....Only a county grand jury can formally bring felony criminal charges in Ohio and Rice supporters want McGinty to present the Rice case to the grand jury....By Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news


Tamir Rice

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty


By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com, and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.com, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper and newspaper blog. Tel: (216) 659-0473.  Coleman is Black, and a 22-year investigative journalist and political and legal reporter who trained for 17 years, and under five different editors, at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. 

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Greater Cleveland community members, led by community activists, will rally at the Free Stamp outside of Cleveland City Hall in downtown Cleveland at 1:00 pm on Thursday, July 23, and then march to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center to deliver a petition to County Prosecutor Tim McGinty at 2 pm with over 60,000 signatures that calls for state criminal charges against the two Cleveland police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old- Tamir Rice. (Editor's note: The groups call themselves the Tamir Rice Justice Committee and will also hold a 2 pm press conference on the steps of the Justice Center. For more information contact  Dick Peery at (216) 752-9912, Rick Nagin at  (216) 749-2369, or LaTonya Goldsby at (216) 903-8759).

July 23 also marks the eighth month anniversary of Rice's Nov 23, 2014 death, and the petition contains community signatures via canvassing, and online signatures, including at change.org.


The Justice Center houses the offices of the county and city prosecutors, city and county clerks of courts, police headquarters, the county jail, the Cleveland municipal and common pleas judges, and the county sheriff, among others. And McGinty, a Democrat who routinely protects police in excessive force shootings from prosecution, data show, and who activists say is procrastinating in the Rice case in particular, is the target of the petition drive.  


"The petition will be delivered to County Prosecutor Tim McGinty at the Justice Center and we want the two policemen charged and arrested because Tamir did not pose a threat to warrant anybody killing him," said Richard "Dick" Peery, a community activist, labor affiliate, and retired Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper reporter and former writer's guild union president.


Peery said that Rick Nagin, a Cleveland west side community activist, will lead the rally, and so will Rice's cousin, LaTonya Goldsby.


Elected officials, union organizers, Cleveland NAACP executive board members, and others that also initiated the petition drive were invited, said Peery. 


Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-11), a Warrensville Heights Democrat whose majority Black 11th congressional district includes the city of Cleveland, is the honorary chair of a Tamir Rice Justice Committee petition, a petition signed also by some Cleveland city council members, members of Cuyahoga County Council, state senators, other elected officials, residents, community activists, and members of the faith-based and labor communities of greater Cleveland.


Nick Martin, the executive director of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, is also among the notables supporting the initiative.

A county grand jury is expected to hear evidence in the case if McGinty, a former common pleas judge, decides to hand the case to the county grand jury for possible indictments of criminal charges. 


Last month Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ron Adrine recommended that McGinty's office pursue criminal charges against the police officers following the judge's probable cause finding relative to a citizens affidavit for criminal charges filed per state law and by a group of Civil Rights leaders, area Black clergy, and community activists dubbed the Cleveland 8.


Adrine said in his ruling that McGinty has the oneness to present the case to the grand jury or not, though the issue is on appeal as to whether the Cleveland judge should have issued arrest warrants against the two cops per his finding of probable cause. That finding precipitated in preliminary misdemeanor court criminal charges issued by Adrine, including a charge of murder against the cop that pulled the trigger.


(Editor's note: 
In Ohio, only a county grand jury can bring felony charges under state law through indictments, though municipal court judges can recommend and issue preliminary felony charges, and bound felony cases over for review by the grand jury after access to a preliminary hearing, and issuance of a probable cause finding. And the county prosecutor leads the review before the grand jury, often times denying a defendant even the opportunity to speak or present his or her side. But cops that get in trouble with the law usually, if not always, get the opportunity to sway or not sway a grand jury, data show.) 

Rice had a toy pellet gun that he allegedly was pointing at people at a public park on the city's largely White west side last November before White police officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann arrived following a 9-1-1 call. The Cleveland dispatcher that took the call reportedly told the officers that Rice was a kid and that the gun was likely a toy gun.  

Surveillance video shows no crowd when the two cops zoom up on the the 12-year-old in a police cruiser and Loehmann shoots Rice instantly, an action that some signing the petition say warrants at least charges of negligent homicide. They also want all applicable charges, including dereliction of duty, aggravated murder, murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.


Rice's older sister, who witnessed the incident at the park that left her brother dead, told reporters that police said raise your shirt and then shot her younger brother twice in the abdomen. And later, she said, that claimed that the younger Rice, who was Black, went for his toy gun.


The boy died the day after the shooting at a local hospital.


Members of the 17-member Cleveland City Council to sign the petition to date for McGinty to push for criminal charges against police relative to the killing of Rice include Jeff Johnson, Brian Cummins, and  Kevin Conwell, vice chair of city council's safety committee.


Members of the 11- member Cuyahoga County Council that signed on include Anthony Hairston, Dale Miller, and Yvonne Conwell, Kevin Conwell's wife.


State Sen. Sandra Williams (D-21), a Cleveland Democrat, and state Sen. Michael Skindell (D-23), a Lakewood Democrat, also signed the petition, as did at least three suburban council persons, including those representing Woodmere, Fairvew Park and the city of Maple Heights.


Dozens of clergy of greater Cleveland have signed on, most of whom are Black, and include the Rev. Tony Minor, Rev. Lorenzo Norris, Rev. Sara Ross, Rev. Waltrina Middleton, and the Rev. Charles See, who leads Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries' Community Re-Entry Program for people returning from prison.


Labor leaders supporting the petition include Democratic operative Lane Dunbar, Workers United Local 178 President Wanda Navarro, Mark Davis, who is the Cleveland regional director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and David Sheagley, the legislative and political organizer for the American Federation of Government Employees, District 6.


Community activists supporting the endeavor include Dr. Stewart and Valerie Robinson of Stop Targeting Ohio's Poor, William Clarence Marshall of the Carl Stokes Brigade, Cleveland Renaissance Movement Leader Basheer Jones, Carol Steiner of Puncture the Silence, Bill Swain of Revolution Books, Don Bryant of the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network,  Al Porter of Black on Black Crime, Art McKoy of the Black Man's Army, and Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland and northern Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR).


Among others that signed the petition are Cleveland NAACP Executive Board Member Meryl Tolbert Johnson, Lillian Sharpley and Karolyn Isnhart of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, and Rick Nagin and Janet Garcia, both of whom have made failed bids for a seat on Cleveland City Council. 


(www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)