As Ohio Declines to Indict the Police Who Killed Tamir Rice, Bernie Sanders Calls for a Federal Investigation
The presidential candidate urges a “hard look” at how law enforcement uses force in this country.
Image via (cc) Flickr user Brookings Institution
When it was announced on Monday that an Ohio grand jury had chosen not to indict the two police officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last year, the news was met with a mix of outrage and resignation as, once again, justice seemed out of reach for the United States’ black community.
Adding his voice to the outraged chorus was Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, currently campaigning for his party’s presidential nomination for the 2016 general election. Talking with Melissa Harris-Perry as she filled in on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, Sanders spoke specifically about the Rice decision and expanded his argument to address what he deemed a national issue.
“To see a 12-year-old shot because he had a toy gun is obviously something that all of us are concerned about,” he told Harris-Perry. “I think we need to have a federal investigation to take a look at that. But I will also tell you that we need, nationally, to take a hard look at the use of force.”
Citing his years spent as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders continued: “I worked very closely with police officers—they have an impossibly difficult job, but I think as a nation, what we have got to recognize is that lethal force should be the last response, not the first response, and we’re seeing too much of shooting, I think, in this country.”
As Harris-Perry pointed out, Sanders’ response to the Rice decision comes after several highly publicized run-ins with members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a subsequent shift by the Sanders campaign to address issues of justice and racial equality.
A statement issued Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio did not close the door on future federal action on the Rice case. ”The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring the investigation that has been conducted regarding the death of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014,” it reads. “We will continue our independent review of this matter, assess all available materials and determine what actions are appropriate, given the strict burdens and requirements imposed by applicable federal civil rights laws.”