Yesterday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters indicted Cincinnati University Police Officer Ray Tensing on 1st degree murder charges for violently killing 43-year-old Sam DuBose 10 days ago.1 Unfortunately, what’s shocking about this case is not just the vile racism and brutality of Officer Tensing’s actions, but the fact that he was charged and how quickly.
For every 1,000 people killed by police only 1 police officer is ever convicted of a crime.2 And yesterday’s rare indictment is both an important step forward and a painful reminder of the countless other Black families who have lost a loved one to police violence and will likely never have their day in court. While police are murdering Black people with impunity, our national leaders have done little more than offer superficial reforms at best and endorse systemic racism and abusive policing at worst.3 It’s time to hold their feet to the fire.
Next week, Cleveland will host the 1st Republican presidential debate. We’ve purchased 9 billboards right outside the convention center. Will you chip in $20 to cover the costs and make sure the crisis of discriminatory policing is front and center at this debate and beyond?
The above images reference the tragic police killings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, 22-year-old John Crawford, and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, respectively.4,5,6 All three were killed by Ohio police in the last year and not one of the abusive and discriminatory police who killed them have faced any criminal charges. In fact, they are all still employed as police officers. And in every single one of these cases it was not the first time these officers had killed or harmed a Black person — and it likely won’t be the last.7
The Department of Justice and local prosecutors that have failed to hold these officers accountable are responsible for the unconscionable loss of Black life we have seen in the past year. Mike Brown, VonDerrit Myers, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Yuvette Henderson, Freddie Gray, Mya Hall, Sandra Bland, Sam DuBose, Kindra Chapman, Ralkina Jones, and Jonathan Sanders, just to name a few. Make no mistake, the challenge before us is centuries old. But the growing awareness around police killings has created a new opportunity to hold our leaders accountable and win the type of transformative change that can finally put an end to this madness.
It’s likely that without these billboards, Republican candidates will ignore systemic racism and discriminatory policing in next week’s debate. That no one will raise the fact that police kill Black Americans at nearly the same rate as Jim Crow era lynchings and more than 175 Black people have been killed by police this year alone.8,9 But we cannot afford to allow this dangerous silence to continue. The billboards around the convention center will honor Tamir, Tanisha and John, while probing debate moderators to ask the questions we need answered:
Does the GOP support responsible body camera policies? Will candidates support a national database documenting police practices? Does the GOP support the federal government continuing to militarize police? How can we expect police to police themselves when one of their own commits a crime? Should cops with a history of racism and abuse still have jobs?We need both parties — Republicans and Democrats — to place the issues of mass incarceration and policing at the center of their policy agendas if we ever hope to see any kind of real change at the federal level.
Billboards in the right location have a great chance of catching the eyes of debate moderators. Click here to hold presidential candidates accountable for addressing discriminatory policing and mass incarceration.
Thanks and peace,
— Rashad, Arisha, Shani, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
July 30th, 2015
1. “Dashcam and bodycam footage from shooting of Sam Dubose,” Raw Story 07-29-2015
2. “New Study: For Every 1000 People Killed by Police, Only 1 Cop is Convicted of a Crime,” Free Thought Project 05-15-2015
3. “Jeb Bush Says No One Should Apologize For Telling Black Activists That ‘All Lives Matter’,” Think Progress 07-23-2015
4. “In Tamir Rice Case, Many Errors by Cleveland Police, Then a Fatal One,” NYTimes 01-22-2015
5. “No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Wal-Mart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account,” Democracy Now 09-24-2015
6. “‘Black women unnamed': How Tanisha Anderson’s bad day turned into her last,” RawStory 06-06-2015
7. “Officer in Tamir Rice Case Was Accused of Choking and Beating a Woman,” Mother Jones 06-03-2015
8. “Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up,” The Guardian 08-25-2015
9. “The Counted,” The Guardian June 2015