I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the murder of 13 year old Tyre King. If you wonder why I use the word “murder” instead of “killing”, it is because I have yet to hear of a situation where police officer killed a black child (or adult) and we weren’t fed lies to place the blame on the deceased. It was just two years ago when 12 year old Tamir Rice was also murdered by police in Ohio for similar claims they continue to not be able to provide proof of.
I would like to share a facebook post by a City Year employee Kelly Greenzalis, who was a mentor of Tyre’s:
Last school year, during my service with City Year, I had the privilege of getting to know 13 year old Tyre King. I ate lunch with him and would help him with his English work almost every day. We would read books like The Outsiders and The Giver to eachother in funny voices in one on one tutor sessions. Sometimes he’d sneak my phone and take funny selfies with the snap chat filters on. Tyre was barely over five feet tall but had the biggest contagious smile and great dance moves. He’d often volunteer to read out loud and would make up raps about vocabulary words. I remember one time there was a new girl in class that was a little different than everyone else. She was being made fun of by some of the boys. Tyre intervened and told her to come sit with him and his friends to make her feel included. He was very smart and a very good kid with many friends. His dad would come to school once quarter and come to his classes to make sure he was doing well and making good grades. Last night around 8pm, my funny and bright student Tyre was murdered by the police. I encourage you to look up the reports, but in short, he was shot multiple times while carrying a toy BB gun. Whether or not the police had the right to shoot, no child should have to die this way.
I am really struggling with how to respond to this event. I haven’t usually been vocal about these issues but now that it has become personal, I cannot stay silent. If this same situation had happened to a white kid in a suburb, they would almost certainly still be alive. I urge you all to in the words of author and lawyer Bryan Stevenson to “get proximate” to people and communities affected by injustices. Take a stand for young black lives and get to know people outside your own communities. “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance. You have to get close.” We need to do more to keep our children safe, and not just white children. We all need to reach out and band together. Racism in America is systemic and we must ALL do something and fight to really create change so all children are protected and treated equal. Remember Tyre King. Speak his name and tell his story. We lost a precious and powerful life this week and I will miss him dearly. Praying for Tyre’s loved ones, Columbus, and the police. #blacklivesmatter #tyrekingslifematters