Protest in Cleveland over 12-year-old’s shooting death chokes off traffic
CLEVELAND — Several hundred people marched down an exit ramp and temporarily blocked rush-hour traffic on a busy freeway on Tuesday while protesting a police officer’s fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy who brandished a realistic-looking novelty gun.
Police diverted traffic but didn’t take action against the protesters, who chanted phrases such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace” as they sat in a major intersection before marching past City Hall and onto state Route 2.
The protesters demonstrated in response to the death of Tamir Rice, who was shot Saturday when police responded to a 911 call about a gun at a playground. Police later determined he had an airsoft gun, which typically shoots tiny plastic pellets.
The demonstration happened as protesters across the country blasted a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.
Cleveland police Chief Calvin Williams was observing and conferring with officers about the local protest but declined to immediately comment.
The crowd blocked the freeway for about an hour before returning to a downtown square, where it dispersed. The demonstrators passed by the Cuyahoga County jail, causing inmates to bang on their windows.
Among the protesters was 17-year-old Naesha Pierce, who said she had stayed up until 3 a.m. watching television news coverage from Ferguson, where people marched in streets, destroyed police cars and set businesses on fire.
“The system wasn’t made to protect us,” she said. “To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice.”
The crowd included people of various races and groups of students from at least three area colleges.
Attorneys for Tamir’s family have asked police to release the complete surveillance video of the confrontation between him and the officer.