CLEVELAND (AP) — Protesters launched a weekend of demonstrations and rallies Saturday near the site of the fatal police shooting of a 12-year-old boy.
People gathered Saturday morning outside a Cleveland recreation center near the park area where Tamir Rice was shot Nov. 22 while carrying an airsoft gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets. The Northeast Ohio Media Group reported that organizers were joined by some participants who came from Ferguson, Missouri — scene of violent protests after the fatal police shooting there of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
There had been several earlier protests in Cleveland since the shooting. Organizers this week planned protests at several places, including a police district headquarters. Police were monitoring the protests, which reportedly grew tense at one point Saturday afternoon when a van with horn blaring drove through the crowd. The Northeast Ohio Media Group reported that police told the driver to leave the area.
Police Chief Calvin Williams spoke with the protesters during the day, saying there wouldn’t be any arrests for peaceful protests.
“You have every right to be doing what you’re doing, as long as you’re doing it peacefully,” Williams said at one point.
Mildress Davis, Tamir’s grandmother, told the crowd Saturday morning: “We just want justice and we just want peace.”
Tamir’s 16-year-old brother Tavon Rice said Tamir’s death “wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Demonstrators chanted “No justice, no peace!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
A grand jury will decide whether there should be charges in the shooting.
Lloyd Robinson, 75, watched the protest while wiping tears from his face with a handkerchief.
“These cops, they know what they’re doing, and getting away with it,” said Robinson, of Cleveland. “Shoot (Tamir) in the leg. There’s all kinds of things they could have done. They didn’t do it.”
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer recently told The Associated Press that officers had no way of knowing that the boy was carrying an airsoft gun.
Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir being shot within 2 seconds of the patrol car stopping near him. Officer Timothy Loehmann told the boy to put his hands up, but he didn’t, according to police. Tamir had nearly pulled the gun out of his waistband when Loehmann shot him, Follmer said.
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