Samaria Rice, the mother of slain pre-teen Tamir Rice, is unhappy with a number of high-profile civil rights activists. And she’s spent the past week letting them know exactly how she feels.
Rice and Lisa Simpson, the mother of Richard Rishner, issued a statement Tuesday putting some social justice advocates, attorneys and artists on blast for “clout chasing.” Rishner was an 18-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers in July 2016.
“Tamika D. Mallory, Shaun King, Benjamin Crump, Lee Merritt, Patrisse Cullors, Melina Abdullah and the Black Lives Matter Global Network need to step down, stand back, and stop monopolizing and capitalizing off our fight for justice and human rights,” it read. “We never hired them to be the representatives in the fight for justice for our dead loved ones murdered by the police. The ‘activists’ have events in our cities and have not given us anything substantial for using our loved ones’ images and names on their flyers.”
The two mothers accused several activists of exploiting their push for justice by taking the spotlight from families impacted by police violence. Their statement featured an official list of demands that included calls for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to pay Simpson $5,000, which she said they raised for her son’s funeral expenses. Simpson claimed she “never received one penny.” The statement also indicated Simpson’s currently homeless and living in a motel with her other children.
Meanwhile, Rice demanded financial assistance for the foundation she established posthumously in her son Tamir’s honor. She said donations are needed to remodel the building that serves as the foundation’s headquarters.
Rice and Crump did not respond to requests for comment this week from Atlanta Black Star. Mallory could not be reached.
Rice has been vocal about her frustrations on social media for several days. She slammed a Grammy’s performance by Lil Baby that featured a poem by Mallory.
The firebrand mother took to Facebook in a series of fiery rants over the weekend to express her misgivings. She took aim at Mallory, high-profile civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt, and the BLM movement as a whole.
Mallory, a nationally renowned civil rights activist in her own right, delivered an impassioned spoken word address midway through Lil Baby’s performance of his song “The Bigger Picture” at Sunday night’s festivities. The stage show opened with a re-enactment of a police officer gunning down a Black man during a traffic stop and featured the rapper walking through burning streets as he delivered his song lyrics.
In her poem, Mallory said Black people were in a “state of emergency” while speaking directly to President Joe Biden. She demanded “justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses” from his administration.
“And to accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices,” she said. “It’s bigger than Black and white. This is not a trend, this is our plight.”
Rice posted a snippet of Mallory’s speech to her Facebook page Monday morning and criticized her.
“Look at this clout chaser, did she lose something in this fight? I don’t think so,” the mother wrote. “That’s the problem they take us for a joke, that’s why we never have justice cause of s–t like this.”
Rice’s 12-year-old son Tamir Rice was shot dead in November 2014 by Timothy Loehmann, a white Cleveland police officer. Officers were dispatched to a report of a man pointing a pistol at people and spotted Tamir playing with a toy gun near a public park. Loehmann shot the Black boy within two seconds of arriving on the scene.
A retired FBI agent hired by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office determined in October 2015 the shooting was justified and deemed Loehmann’s response reasonable. Two months later, an Ohio grand jury also determined the shooting was justified and never voted on any indictments against the officer.
The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed the case and announced Dec. 29 that there was “insufficient evidence” to bring federal charges against Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback.
Following her son’s death, Rice founded the Tamir Rice Foundation and has been an outspoken political advocate for juvenile rights in Cleveland.
The city of Cleveland reached a $6 million settlement agreement with the Rice family in 2016. As part of the settlement, Loehmann and Garmback admitted no wrongdoing, cleveland.com reported at the time.
Cleveland police officials fired Loehmann in 2017 for falsifying his job application after it came to light that he was deemed unfit for duty by his previous department. Loehmann did not disclose the information in his bid to join the Cleveland ranks.
On Thursday, March 11, the 8th Court of Appeals upheld Loehmann’s termination after the officer’s police union sought to have him reinstated, NBC 5 Cleveland reported.
Samaria Rice’s onslaught began the following day, March 12, when she accused unnamed activists of taking center stage and using the fervor surrounding police shootings to “benefit off our loved ones blood.”
Rice continued her attacks Saturday, March 13, but this time she mentioned Mallory, Crump and Merrick by name. She accused activists and “ambulance chasing Attorneys” of riding Black families’ backs for their own personal gain.
“Y’all have (f—-d) up our fight and y’all can kiss my ass too,” the grieving mother wrote. “Make it make sense….You can’t, working with the devil is easy too (sic) do. F–k y’all.”
The Grammy performance seemed to set Rice off even further. Early Monday, she let off another volley of profanity-laced Facebook posts slamming Mallory and the awards show.
“F–K A GRAMMY WHEN MY SON IS DEAD F–k all pigs cops,” she wrote. Rice later added, “Too many dead souls and they think its a joke.”
After news of Rice’s recent comments began to spread, she shared a link to a NewsOne story with the caption “I don’t think you speak for no one but your self Tamike your trash .. I didn’t say it Louisville said it.”
Civil rights writer and activist Shaun King weighed in Tuesday with a column on his website The North Star with Shaun King. He sought to empathize with Rice’s “pain, grief, and fury,” cataloguing a long list of civil workers that failed her leading up to Tamir’s death and the powerful people and institutions that have yet to render justice.
“Mostly, my heart just breaks for Samaria Rice — whose pain, anger, grief, and fury we must try to understand,” King stated. “Ultimately, what I know is that a grieving mother like Samaria Rice has every right to be skeptical and hurt and suspicious and cynical. She wasn’t born that way, but this evil and unrelentingly racist country forced her into that corner. It’s our job to gracefully and patiently help her find her way out.”
But King praised the “fierce and serious message” that Mallory delivered on Grammy night and defended her against Rice’s claims that she’s nothing more than a “clout chaser.
“I know Tamika very well — and this just isn’t true,” King stated. “Her only intention with her performance … was to use an important cultural moment to speak truth to power and call out President Joe Biden on his lack of movement on justice issues. It took tremendous guts.”
Many criticized King on Twitter, calling his opinion piece “patronizing” to Rice and accusing him of letting Mallory off the hook.
“How do you write a piece about how someone’s hurt and anger about being failed are understandable and then wholeheartedly exonerate a source of that frustration?” @ztsamudzi wrote. “How the hell can he believe he has that kind of authority?”
Mallory is the co-founder of Until Freedom, a social justice organization aimed at ending systemic racism. Hip-hop artist Mysonne is also one of the group’s founders.
Until Freedom caught flak last August when it staged an event in Louisville called BreonnaCon to honor Breonna Taylor. Many took to social media and called the event, which featured a “Bre-B-Q,” an inappropriate exploitation of Taylor’s tragedy.
“The very blatant capitalizing on black death w/this breonnacon nonsense is really gross,” wrote one Twitter user, Wendi Muse. “Why would anyone turn this woman’s brutal assassination by police into an all-day empowerment seminar? wtf is wrong w/ppl?! honor her by supporting her family & calling for the end of police.”
In her posts Monday, Rice accused activists of “robbing your own people from getting justice.” Mallory said she had the blessing of Breonna Taylor’s family when she organized last summer’s event. But Rice made an apparent reference to BreonnaCon while also seemingly alluding to Mysonne.
“Tamike and the crew you b-tches chasing clout along with, Sonney, Crump , and Lee Yall have literally f-ck our fight up i hope not another family soul used yall to represent them,” she wrote. “Yall might ass well be junior pigs cops…..I’m mad ass yell.”