October 11—15 people from Rise Up October Cleveland gathered at Cudell Recreation Center, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered by police on November 30, 2014. They denounced and exposed the two so-called “expert” reports issued by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office that found that the pigs who murdered Tamir acted in a “reasonable” manner. The press conference was covered by the three main local TV stations and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The main presenter was Rev. Jerome McCorry, National Faith Coordinator for Rise Up October. “I would say I’m surprised, but I’m not,” McCorry said of the reports. “To be surprised would mean I expected something different. The city of Cleveland has covered up more tragedy and police terror than we have seen anywhere else in the state of Ohio.” He exposed that the release of these reports is one more step by Prosecutor McGinty to let the cops walk free for killing Tamir. McGinty has refused to indict the cops; waited for the Sheriff’s investigation, which did not draw a conclusion; commissioned several reports by police officials or cronies; and is now releasing reports for the media to create public opinion—to set it up for the grand jury to not indict.
Rev. McCorry said that while traveling all over the country organizing for Rise Up October, he heard people talking about the police murders in Cleveland and other cities in Ohio. He said, “If necessary, we will see to it that Cleveland, in fact, becomes the next Ferguson. If they are going to act like Ferguson, then we are going to bring some of the Ferguson action here to Cleveland.”
He spoke to the question of “Black-on-Black” crime, a major issue in Cleveland where there have been over 100 homicides this year, including recent drive-by killings of three children. The media and chief of police have used this to blame the people and direct people’s anger away from the murdering cops. Rev. McCorry said that the problems feed into each other as part of a larger systemic issue. He said, “Because my house is a little dirty and needs cleaning does not give you the right to throw trash in my front yard. Stop the excuses…The same system that is killing our children outright is creating the conditions in the hood that are causing children to go after one another.”
Bill Swain, representing Cleveland Rise Up October, criticized the reports released by the prosecutor, saying that they are nothing but another way to justify the killing of Tamir Rice, and challenged people to get on the bus to New York City for Rise Up October to stop police murder. He added that family members of loved ones killed by police will be leading the national march in NYC on October 24.
Three Cleveland family members of people whose lives were stolen by police also spoke: Brenda Bickerstaff, sister of Craig Bickerstaff and aunt of Ralkina Jones; Alicia Kirkman, mother of Angelo Miller; and Art Blakey, brother of Kiana Nicole Blakey. People felt both their pain and determination to end police murder.