New 'Squad' member Jamaal Bowman renews call to defund the police after Tamir Rice probe results in no charges
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Democratic Congressman-elect Jamall Bowman of New York, took to twitter to call for defunding the police Tuesday, following the announcement by the Justice Department that the officers involved in the 2014 shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice will not face federal charges.
"We're fighting in your memory, Tamir. You won't be forgotten," Bowman tweeted.
"A system this cruel and inhumane can't be reformed. Defund the police, and defund the system that's terrorizing our communities," he added.
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Police were called on Nov. 22, 2014 after someone reported that a "guy" was pointing a gun at people, adding that the weapon could be a "fake" and the man in question could actually be a juvenile – the additional information was not passed along to the officers.
Officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback were called to the scene, where the 12-year old had been playing with a pellet gun.
The two officers, according to statements they gave to investigators, ordered Tamir to show his hands. They both said they believed he was reaching for a gun before Loehmann, opened fire.
Rice’s killing sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, which calls for police reform and played a leading part in the 2020 summer protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a White police officer in Minneapolis.
The Cleveland officers involved in the Tamir case were ultimately not charged after the Justice Department said the video footage of the incident was of too poor of quality to conclusively provide evidence to bring a federal criminal civil rights prosecution. However, in its closing remarks, the department said it did not condone Loehmann’s actions.
In bringing federal criminal civil rights charges, prosecutors must prove that the police officer purposefully broke the law, rather than acting by mistake – a threshold that prosecutors under Democratic and Republican administrations have had a hard time proving.
The DOJ has been unwilling to issue federal charges in several high-profile cases, including the killings of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
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This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have forced Democrats in Congress to address how they want to address police reform, with centrist Democrats blaming more progressive leaders for the losses House Democrats suffered at the November polls.
But left-leaning figures like "Squad" members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Rashida Talib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., have all called for measures that would cut funding to police resources, or divert how funds are spent.
Newly elected House members like Bowman and Democrat Cori Bush of Missouri campaigned on "defunding the police" and have even pushed back on progressive members of the Democrat Party like former President Obama, who has warned against polarizing slogans.
"With all due respect, Mr. President — let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor," Bush wrote on Twitter earlier this month. "We’re losing our loved ones to police violence. It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police."
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Bowman, who has been characterized as one of the latest "Squad" members to hit the scene, made headlines last month when he refused to say whether or not he would re-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to continue as the Speaker of the House, suggesting that he, like the other members of the "Squad" could prove to be a tricky new House member for Pelosi.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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