Interview of Samaria Rice: “Tamir Was Blamed for Causing His Own Death”

May 11, 2015

In this exclusive interview posted at Black Agenda Report, Samaria Rice speaks courageously about the day that changed her life forever. Her 12 year old son, Tamir Rice was brutally killed by Cleveland, Ohio police on November 22, 2014. Tamir was attacked and killed by police incapable of viewing him as a child playing in a neighborhood community center. Tamir’s assassination illustrates the depravity of white supremacy.

Tamir joins Emmitt Till in an uniquely grotesque brotherhood of death on the streets of America where blood, dirt and white hatred walks around in blue uniforms exercising their state-sponsored license to kill Africans with impunity. Perhaps, the brutal murders of Tamir and Emmitt profoundly crystallize the interconnectivity of the black experience from the 20th to the 21st century. Boys not permitted to enjoy childhood and certainly not permitted to forget for one moment that being African in America carries a death sentence.

Samaria Rice, the mother of 12 year old Tamir lives in a space of unassailable grace. She is fearless having lost and regained her sea legs. Samaria’s interview below underlines her resistance, her unfathomable journey to expose the killer of her child and to end the drumbeat of murder of black children and genocide of her people. In Part II, I explore the moments after Tamir was shot by Cleveland, Ohio police. It was established in Part I that Cleveland police refused to allow Tamir’s 14 year old sister Tajai to provide life-saving techniques and save her brother’s life. She was manhandled, handcuffed and forced to sit in the back of the same patrol car that was used in the execution of her brother.

Coleman-Adebayo: Did the police prevent you from providing life-saving medical attention to Tamir?  If so, how?

Samaria Rice: After the Police shot my son, two little boys that knew Tamir ran to my house and told me what had happened. I ran over as fast as I could. When I got there, I saw my son on the ground not receiving any first aid. I saw my daughter being handcuffed and locked in the back of a police cruiser. I was torn and between which child to assist. I was denied access to either child. I was told by the Police that I had two choices: go with my dying child in the ambulance or with my child that was in the rear of the police cruiser. I had to choose.

Coleman-Adebayo: The City of Cleveland has issued a report, essentially blaming Tamir for his own death.  Can you elaborate?

Samaria Rice: All I can say about the city of Cleveland’s answer blaming my son for his own death is that as a mother no one has explained to me why my child is dead. The decision to blame my son for his own death is disrespectful and it hurts. How can a 12 year old child be expected to understand danger like an adult. The City of Cleveland has put an unfair adult like burden on my son. Twelve year olds can not do a number of things in society because they are too immature and can not appreciate the consequence of their actions. Tamir still watches “Curious George” he has no idea that the police could perceive a toy to be life threatening.

Coleman-Adebayo: What are the next steps in seeking justice for Tamir and how can the public help you and your family in this struggle?

Samaria Rice: The next steps are to continue to speak out and raise awareness of about these unjustified killings. It will not stop until accountability is demanded and enforced equally.

The public can help by signing our petition and donating to our memorial account. The funds help with travel, signage, and daily expenses while the family pursues justice.

Being thrust into this national issue is a full time job. The GoFundMe account is

Coleman-Adebayo: Thank you for your courage and leadership.

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo serves as Director of Governmental Transparency and Accountability at the Green Shadow Cabinet